13 Jul How to Talk to Your Kids About Generosity
We follow our friend, Mary Elizabeth’s, Facebook page. You might remember her from the Forever We video we have on our website. Mary Elizabeth was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in April of 2014. Since then, she’s undergone three bone marrow transplants and relapsed twice. While she’s racking up a courage bead for every MRI, spinal tap, needle poke, and chemotherapy treatment, she’s counting down the days till she can go home and say goodbye to cancer to forever.
Recently, her mom posted a picture of her with two of our dolls and a note that said, “Mary’s labs are much better today! Thank you Lord! So we are already back at the Target House and she feels pretty good. She is so excited to hand out some Forever We dolls to other patients in the Target House. All of these were donated by our followers. This makes her so, so happy! Thank you!!! And we love the boy ones!!!”
If Mary Elizabeth wanted to sit in her hospital bed and sulk all day, nobody would blame her. If she were demanding and rude, we’d certainly forgive her. If she cried herself to sleep at night, we’d cry with her. Mary is amazing, but she’s still human. She has many days where she feels discouraged, afraid, and lonely, and yet the hallmark of every family Facebook post is its emphasis on hope.
Mary Elizabeth will not defined by cancer.
In spite of very difficult circumstances, and perhaps maybe even because of them, she has found a way to leverage influence where she’s at to bring the spirit of generosity to the people God has placed in her path.
I didn’t know Mary Elizabeth or her family before cancer, but based on what I know about them now, I would guess that generosity is a core value. I think Mary saw generosity in action at home first.
In our effort to ensure our kids are successful in school and sports, it’s easy to overlook important character training, like generosity. But what if…generosity were a contest?
What if kids competed to see how many toys they could give to Goodwill?
How much money they could raise at an Alex’s Lemonade Stand?
How kind they could be to other kids?
One thing that differentiates Mary Elizabeth from other kids her age is that she knows what it’s like to be a kid with cancer.
And then there are her friends and supporters who donated the dolls. They know what it’s like to have a friend with cancer. And they are searching for ways to help.
People aren’t normally generous toward the things they care nothing about.
Memory + Imagination = Empathy
That’s why Mary Elizabeth decided to give away Forever We dolls. And that’s why her friends decided to help her.
We all face obstacles to giving. We blame our resources or our health or our busyness. We fear the unknown.
You can talk to your kids about generosity until you’re blue in the face. Talking to them about generosity won’t make them generous. Practicing generosity is what makes kids generous.
Let them hear you talking about the things that are important to you.
Let them see you sort out the experiences that are meaningful to you. Engage your kids in conversations that focus on sharing and giving.
Some good questions to ask are:
- Who has shared with you and what did he or she share?
- Who taught you something and what did he or she teach?
- Who showed you love and how did he or she show you love?
- Who made you happy and how did he or she make you happy?
- What can you share and teach? To whom can you show love, and who can YOU make happy today?
(adapted from The Giving Book by Ellen Sabin, (c)2004
Now, go do it!
Anne Frank said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
She was right.
Mary Elizabeth has cancer. It sucks. She cannot change her circumstances, but she can choose how she will respond to what is happening to her. She is choosing generosity.
Next month, Forever We is launching our 30 Days of Kindness initiative. We hope you will join us. You probably have some great ideas. Send them our way! We want to hear what you’re doing to spread kindness and compassion in your community, so we can share your stories and inspire others to do the same!
We are Forever We!