How to Teach Your Children Generosity

by Kristopher Hatchell.

“A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverb 11:25

So, as I sit here in front of this blank white page I wonder what I might be able to share with you, my fellow fathers.  I fear that what might continue as black letters, forming into words on this page, will be a discombobulated string of consciousness as my physical body and spirit are running low on energy.  Work deadlines, the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season and being the father of two young boys, ages four and 18-months, has begun to wear on me.  Add to the mix, my wife and I are in the process of purchasing a house and packing up to move from Nashville, TN and to Knoxville, TN just after the first of the year.

Regardless of all that is going on, my family is participating in a special season – the season of Advent followed by that of Christmas.  For those of you who might not know, Advent is the first part of the Christian calendar and is a four-week preparation and anticipation of the coming of Jesus.  Christmas is a twelve-day season following Advent reflecting and delighting in the arrival of Christ.  A focus on these seasons helps my family and I battle the materialism of our culture and help remind us that life is more than just about us.

It has always amazed me that regardless if you are a believer or not, this season always prompts us to look outside ourselves and how we might be generous to others.  But how do we teach this to our children who are so inundated with the expectations of receiving?  The other day my wife purchased a few monster trucks to give to some of my oldest son’s friends and when we were wrapping them up he got upset that these were not for him and his little brother.  Why did he think they would be his?  What can we do to train our children that being generous is more rewarding than receiving?

Here are a few ways that I (and my wife) are trying to train our boys this season to be generous: 

  1. Serving a meal at the local rescue mission – For the first time in our family’s history, we are going to give of our time and help the local mission serve a meal. We have talked about doing this almost every year around the holidays, but this year we finally got our act together and made it a priority.  The day after Christmas we will travel downtown and serve a meal together as a family.
  2. Making a care package for those in need – While driving around Nashville it is not uncommon to see someone on the side of the road asking for help. Over the years, my wife and I have always made an effort to give something and we typically roll down the back window and let our oldest hand out an orange and apple or a pack of those cherished goldfish.  To be a little more prepared and thoughtful in the days to come, just the other night we ran out to the local store and picked up a few items to make care packages. This way whenever we see someone we can show our boys that we can be generous by providing a little care package.  If you are interested, I’ve provided a list below of what we put in our care packages.  We made twelve packages for about $150.  You can do more or less.  This is just what we did and then in lieu of play time one morning, we will set everything out and pack-up these packages as a family.
    • 1 – gallon zip lock bag
    • 2 – bottle of water
    • 1 – pack of wet wipes
    • 1 – pair of socks
    • 1 – pair of gloves
    • 1 – tube of toothpaste
    • 1 – toothbrush
    • 1 – Clift bar
    • 2 – packages of crackers
    • 1 – Chapstick
    • 1 – bottle of lotion

When we arrived at home the other night after getting the stuff for our care packages we got a glimpse of hope when our oldest son said that the Christmas tree in our house, with the few presents under it, reminds him of giving.  So, how to teach and train our children that giving and being generous is more rewarding than receiving is by setting an example.

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 Kristopher (Kris) Hatchell loves to build. His trade is engineering, his
passion is making disciples. He and his wife, DeeDee spent several years
in Guatemala involved in water development and the construction of a
bridge. During that time they also constructed bridges between villagers
and God. Kris is a marathoner and the proud father of two young sons. They
have recently relocated to Knoxville, Tennessee.

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