We recently established a “giving fund” that the kids’ contribute to from their own money. I expected them to be excited – to have some tangible impact and personal connection to the causes we’ll support as a family. What I didn’t expect was the strong feelings invoked in my 5-year-old, Abby.
And I’m not talking about positive feelings.
When it was time to put in her dollar, she wailed and moaned. With her fists clenched and her eyebrows raised, she raged,
“You can’t do this! It’s my money!”
You would have thought we were cutting off her right arm. Her older siblings tried to convince her she really doesn’t need the dollar (and it could help another kid who might not have food or clothes) but she still didn’t care. The queen wasn’t parting with the crown jewels any time soon.
Being the patient mother I am, I ripped the dollar out of her hand and threw it in the pile. She put her head down in a final, contrived pout. I thought to myself, I’d hate to get stuck on a deserted island with this chick. She'd take every last crumb for herself.
I know, I shouldn’t be so hard on her. She’s young. She has time to learn that the world doesn’t revolve around her wants and needs. But I also know that gratitude isn’t just going to appear on her doorstep one day. She’s not going to “grow into it” over time or voluntarily relinquish her self-protective nature.
We have to be intentional. Sooner, not later.
Several days after Abby’s rant, I stumbled upon a post by Amy Sullivan -- How To Raise Selfish Kids. I laughed out loud. Been there. Done that. One of the reasons I follow Amy’s blog is because she’s passionate about cultivating a radical attitude of giving in her children. And as I read along, I realize my heart wants the same thing for my own children.
But I have so far to go. Some days, I act a lot like Abby.