How do we raise a child to be a generous person in a Black Friday world? You know, Black Friday: the day each year when half of us lose our minds and make a run on Wal-Mart like it’s The Purge. Meanwhile, the other half sit at home only to watch the video of it on YouTube on Saturday morning. Kinda makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it? The problem isn’t that there’s one day a year when stores sell stuff really cheap as a marketing gimmick to get us in the door. Rather, the problem is that it’s easy to live the rest of the year with a Black Friday mentality.
Our culture is awash with the message that happiness is simply one transaction away. That’s a lie. Granted, there’s a shred of truth–buying new stuff makes you happy for a minute. But soon enough, the shine wears off and if the research is correct, you find yourself just as dissatisfied as ever, if not worse. The antidote to this obsessive consumerism is generosity. But how do we cultivate generosity in the lives of our kids? Here are 5 suggestions.
1. Budget giving.
Look, I know this is about as anticlimactic as a dental cleaning, but sometimes the magic is in the mundane. Aristotle is credited as saying, “We are what we repeatedly do.” And he’s right (he is Aristotle, after all). The key to generosity is developing habits of generosity.
Make a point to set aside a portion of your income to give to a cause you believe in and involve your children in the conversation. Also, if your kids get an allowance or have jobs, require them to budget a percentage of their income to give away to something they believe in, too.
2. Practice gratitude.
Gratitude and generosity are connected. When we are generous with what we have, we become increasingly grateful. Likewise, when we practice gratitude we become a more generous person. Take five minutes each night to practice gratitude as a family. Ask each person to simply share one thing they are thankful for that day.
3. Start something new.
Teaching our kids to give also can be a lesson in entrepreneurship. Identify a cause with your children and plan a project that will raise money for it. This could be as simple as a lemonade stand, a lawn mowing business, or offering car washes.
4. Listen to outside voices.
Read a book together (depending on your child’s age, you could read Just So Thankful by Mercer Mayer or Grateful by Diana Butler Bass). Watch a series like The Kindness Diaries or the Minimalism documentary. Take in positive content together from outsiders and talk about your child’s response to it.
5. Sell out…sorta.
When all else fails, go Black Friday shopping, but make it a trip for someone in need. Contact your church or a local homeless shelter to find specific items that would be beneficial. Make a budget with your children and take them with you, knowing that the haul they bring will go to someone with legitimate needs.
If we primarily become consumers, it’s not by accident. It’s the result of lots of little prompts and habits. Kids are born into a Black Friday world, but they don’t have to wind up with a Black Friday mentality.
Sound off: What other habits could you implement to cultivate generosity in your children?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What’s one way we could begin practicing generosity as a family?”