Sunday, November 27, 2011

MommyMaestra Challege: One Idea for Raising Philanthropic Children

One of the things that bothers me this time of year is the focus on materialism that seems to run amok. Everywhere we look there are commercials and ads targeting a child's (and an adult's!) selfish desires. As a parent, I think it is a really difficult time for us to avoid a bad case of the "Galloping Gimmies," as the Berenstain Bears so eloquently put it in one of their episodes.

A few years ago, I was helping out in the kitchen of one the annual Christmas plays my kids' preschool puts on. One of the other mothers was rattling on about what her children were wanting/getting for Christmas. I was nodding politely, only half listening, until she mentioned one of those giant dinosaurs that was automated or whatever. It was the "big thing" that year, and we had seen it in Target. My son had gazed up at it in awe and demanded we add it to his list. I took one look at the outlandish three digit price, and immediately dismissed it. Seriously? Why would I spend a couple hundred dollars on a toy that takes up too much space, is too loud, has no educational value, and will be forgotten in a few weeks? I was totally horrified that this mom would waste so much money...much less brag about it.

I couldn't help but think of all the other things she could buy, or the good that she could do for someone else with that money.

Lately, it seems like I spend almost every shopping trip saying "No!" to my kids' pleas for at least a dozen toys. So I have to wonder, how do parents teach their children to be satisfied with what they have? How do we teach them to think of others who are less fortunate? Even harder, how do we make charity a habit in our children's lives?

Here's my preliminary plan of attack:

Tomorrow, I'll be pulling out a box for the kids to fill with toys they no longer want/play with. Their challenge is going to be to create a gift box for other children like themselves, who don't have any toys to play with. We'll then take the box to Goodwill together.

The challenge for them? Letting go of stuff.

The challenge for me? Being willing to accept some of the (sentimental) things they want to let go of.

I also want both of them to take the time to make something with their own hands to give to someone else. So we'll be brainstorming ideas of not only what to make, but who to give it to. I'll share our list with you tomorrow.

In the meantime, here are some great books I've found online that I think have potential. I haven't read them, so if you have, I'd love to hear your feedback...

The Giving Book: Open the Door to a Lifetime of Giving by Ellen Sabin

Raising Charitable Children by Carol Weisman

How to Be an Everyday Philanthropist: 330 Ways to Make a Difference in Your Home, Community, and World - at No Cost! by Nicole Bouchard Boles

This isn't much, but it's a start. I hope to be able to make more progress after you participate in my little challenge...

The MommyMaestra Challenge:

I would like to challenge you all this week to come up with one idea or activity to help your children understand the value of giving to others. Share it with us so that we might all be able to benefit and perhaps use it with our own families.

Buena suerte!


  1. Muchas gracias Monica! Me encanto tu articulo y hoy mismo voy a poner los títulos que nos recomendaste en mi lista de espera en la biblioteca :-) También les decimos a los ninos que juegetes tan caros no tienen sentido.

    Un idea que nosotros vamos a hacer este mes para que nuestros hijos pueden contribuir al bien estar de otros ninos es "adoptar" el cumpleaños de un nino que esta pasando tiempos difíciles. Es un programa de una organización sin fin de lucros que da terapia y apoyo emocional a ninos que vienen de una familia con varias dificultades.

    Si alguien quiere apoyar al programa, pueden "adoptar" el cumpleaños del nino y regalarle regalos que quiere y necesita: tres conjuntos de ropa, un par de zapatos y dos o tres juegetes. Dicen el tamaño del nino y hasta sus personajes favoritos! El miércoles nuestros hijos yo vamos a comprar todo, envolverlo y llevarlo a la agencia.

    Espero esta experiencia ayuda a nuestros hijos acordar que todos los ninos del mundo merecen un buen cumpleaños y que nosotros mismos podemos ayudar.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to recommend books, strategies, etc! Very helpful, keep doing what you're doing. :)

  3. Sasha, me encanta su idea! Cual programa estás usando?

    Panquetzani, so glad to share...

  4. Monica linda, gracias por tu respuesta.

    El programa en Seattle es Childhaven ( Es muy padre allí porque puedes participar en un programa "adoptar el cumpleaños" de un nino de 0-5 anos en que regalas ropa, zapatos y juguetes, uno de "adoptar una graduación" de pre-kinder cuando preparas una mochila de útiles para el nino que va a comenzar el kinder y uno de "adoptar una familia" y comprarles regalos navideños para todos los miembros su familia.

    Yo se que en muchas ciudades programas de "adoptar un nino o familia" para navidad. Lo hacen en varias empresas y ademas se puede encontrar con una búsqueda en google de "adopt a family for christmas" con tu ciudad. Espero que muchas familias pueden participar.

    Hoy fui con nuestros hijos (7 y 8) a comprar los regalos a "nuestro" nino de cuatro anos y fue tan tierno. Con cada prenda de ropa o juguete ellos pensaron si fuera algo que ellos mismos les gustaría recibir. Ademas gastaron parte de su "domingo" en los regalos para saber que de veras fueron ellos que compraron los regalos :-)

    Que todos pasen muy buenos días festivos y que todos los ninos comparten las bendiciones que han recibido.

  5. Igualmente, Sasha! Y gracias por compartir la información. Un abrazo...


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