My kids have been getting an allowance for a while now, but we took it to the next level: Now they get to spend half of their weekly stipend, 25% goes into savings and 25% goes to charity.
I recently learned about Watsi, a site which lists people in developing countries who need medical procedures they cannot afford, along with the dollar sum required for treatment. Explaining our new program, and wanting to offer an example of charity, I opened my Macbook and pulled up the above profile of a 1-year-old Haitian boy named Sainder, who suffers from a clef lip his parents cannot afford to have treated.
Over dinner of leftover potato, cheese and bacon soup, I showed the kids Sainder’s picture (“It’s cute but weird,” Helena said) and them his Sainder’s profile, which included a quote from his mother, who was eager to see her son post-surgery.
“If you had something wrong with you, we could probably go to the doctor and get care. But not everyone is so lucky,” I said. “I understand how his mom must feel.”
Since we’re just getting going on our program, I asked them to donate whatever they wanted ($20 and $10, handed over in crumpled-up singles, pried from the piggy banks), and pledged a match, signed in with PayPal and made our contribution. I’m looking forward to following Sainder’s case with the kids, and exploring other ways to give back.
I’ve written here often about my deepest feeling that gratitude is the essence of a meaningful life. And when life is a big, grueling grind, when you sense you have less than people around you, when you feel lonely or stressed or broke — it’s hard to appreciate all your blessings. This is how I’ve felt lately, but it is not how I want to be. It is also not how I want to raise my kids.
So I am using my kids. I am using this parental lesson to make my kids better citizens and more aware human beings, but I am also inspiring myself. I am using this charity plan to get out of my head and my own First World paradigm, and get serious about an adult-sized charity program that I’ve been thinking about for some time. One of the big lessons I’ve learned in recent years that it is a gift to give — the actual act of giving is healing. Providing my children this with experience is a gift, and it is a gift to myself, too.
How about you? Do you give to charity? How do you teach your kids to be grateful? Do you find this is harder to do if you are a stressed-out single mom? Share in the comments!