In December, families often take time to come together and celebrate the holidays. Whether you are taking part in traditions that have been in your family for generations or creating new ones with your own kids, the holiday season is a perfect time to reinforce the values of charity and generosity. It’s easy for kids to become wrapped up in getting presents, but during the holidays, you can show them that spending time giving back to others can be just as fun and much more rewarding!
Depending on the age of your kids, you may want to talk to them about what it means to give back to the community and why it is so important. Remind them that it is not the amount you give or even giving money at all. Time and effort can make all the difference. PBS Parents recommends framing this conversation around how your kids’ actions will affect others, since children often operate from a center of self. Similarly, the Family Dinner Project suggests starting out by asking kids, “What can you give or do for someone that doesn’t cost any money?” Or, for older kids, “Invent a superhero who protects something you care about. What is s/he fighting for? How does s/he create change?”
Choosing a cause to donate time or money to is a very personal decision. Help your kids choose a charity that speaks to their interests. Maybe they love animals and would like to pick out a toy to drop off at an animal shelter, or perhaps they have a friend who is in the hospital and would like to contribute to a letter writing campaign for other hospitalized children. Whatever it is, get your kids involved in the choice itself so they have a meaningful connection to the actions that follow.
Unfortunately, whenever donating money is involved, you also have to take some precautions. There are a variety of resources you as a parent can use to make sure monetary donations are going to a good cause and being used for what a charity says they will be used for. The Federal Trade Commission also offers advice to consider before giving to a charity. Other vetting resources include:
If your family wants to contribute to a service project or community initiative rather than make a monetary donation, check out these tips from PBS Parents on 5 Ways Kids Can Serve Communities. It includes some ideas that can help you get the ball rolling this holiday season, including hosting a service party or starting locally in your own neighborhood.
Research suggests that volunteering together helps families forge stronger ties, as well as gives kids a greater sense of purpose and higher self-esteem. Our January 2013 Fatherhood Buzz shares tips and resources on where you can find opportunities to volunteer as a family.
National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse