We’ve all had the experience of receiving unexpected, and so appreciated, gifts. Moments of unforeseen acts of thoughtfulness can mean all the difference in making our way through difficult situations or just to perk up an otherwise “going-downhill-fast” kind of day. Our family was recently on the receiving end of such an act. With my husband’s recent illness and hospitalization, and his being out of work since the beginning of July, finances are extraordinarily strained. Which, of course, meant that this is the time our clothes dryer, already on its last legs, decided to retire. Oy! A few afternoons, later, as I was meeting with my high school girls Bible study group, my doorbell rang and it was my sister — my sister who lives 35 miles away, who had driven to my house unannounced on a weekday afternoon. How weird! She asked me to open our garage, because she and her husband had brought us a dryer and she wanted to put it in there until our son and son-in-law could get it installed. I was overwhelmed and overjoyed!
By the time I had gotten down the stairs to the garage, our kids had already opened the door for them and my brother-in-law had unloaded, not just any dryer, but a BRAND NEW, still in the box, clothes dryer. What an extraordinary gift and blessing for our family! What a sacrifice, I know, for theirs. And yet, they gave generously, lovingly and with great JOY. That’s the kind of sharing we need to be modeling for our children — sharing with joy and love for the person receiving, that exceeds any thoughts for ourselves. The great mystery in learning to give and share in this way, is that you are overwhelmingly blessed in doing it. Our kids need to see and learn that, to do it, and to feel that joy and blessing for themselves.
Generosity and sharing seem to come naturally to some people, but in reality, they are life skills that need to be taught. While it’s important to pick up on those moments when our kids are interacting with other kids and be sure they have opportunities to be generous and share freely, one of the best ways to teach the important character traits of giving and sharing is to model them for our children. A heart for giving develops over time, as children learn to experience joy from providing happiness to someone else. Watching you, their parent, do this consistently will make it a normal part of everyday life and something that will seem natural and normal when you ask your kids to do the same.
Growing up in a house with four other siblings, and a fifth once I entered college, sharing was a necessity of life. It was simply expected and we didn’t question it. With our own five kids, that has also been the rule of thumb. The idea of learning to put others needs and wishes before our own is not something the culture, at large, is modeling for our kids. In fact, it often SHOUTS just the opposite, so it’s important for parents to model kindness, caring, sharing and giving on a regular basis, as well as provide opportunities for their kids to learn to enjoy the blessings of sharing, too. Whether it’s taking a meal to a family with a new baby or raking the yard for the elderly neighbor across the street, it’s important to share our time and our resources with others and it’s a skill we need to begin teaching our children while they are very, very young. Toddlers who learn to forego the “mine” attitude and share and cooperate with others as they play, will with continued modeling and examples, grow to be someone whose generosity and giving are second-nature, as an adult. As with all child-training, consistency and modeling are key. A phrase that has become common in our home and youth group is, “It’s not about me.” I think it’s critical for all of us to internalize and really understand the truth of that statement. You’ll never regret teaching it to your children. That simple statement can shape the way they, and all of us, see and treat other people; and often, the way those people, in turn, treat those THEY come in contact with.
My children, and now my grandchildren, have learned to share, at first, because they were required, and now, because they understand the joy and blessing of watching someone else receive. From sharing toys as small children, to sharing clothes with siblings, to volunteering to provide childcare at a church event or helping to shingle an elderly church member’s roof, we have provided them opportunities to give of their time and resources. Now, we watch as they do those things on their own, without being prompted and with joy. One of the most common experiences I am blessed with each week is the front screen door being thrown open as a loud, “Grandma! Look at this!” bursts from the excited mouth of one of our grandkids. I am then presented with a flower, or a hand drawn portrait or a newly beaded bracelet or necklace they have created just for me. The joy and happiness that spreads across their little faces, as I exclaim over this newest gift, not only reinforces a giving spirit in those little souls, but provides me with such a happy memory. Teaching children to be loving and generous is often hard work, but it is definitely worthwhile and rewarding work. Hang in there, during those toddler years, and the struggle of will that seems always to be asserting, “That’s mine!” Intercede and consistently require sharing, set the example of generous and joyful sharing and provide plenty of opportunities for your little one to give. The end game is worth the struggle and your child will be a much happier adult for your consistent efforts!
Kleenex is providing a simple opportunity for you to involve your kids in an act of sharing, this fall. through their Softness Worth Sharing program. When you purchase specially marked Kleenex brand bundle packs or boxes, the code on the box will provide a gift to share with someone else. By visiting the Kleenex website, your children will be able to enter the code and follow the directions to send a Kleenex Care Pack to someone who needs a little extra caring. Let your kids experience the joy of giving and sharing with this simple act of kindness.
How do you teach YOUR kids about sharing? Have you received any unexpected gifts at a time you needed it most? I’d love for you to share your stories and ideas about this important life skill. Looking forward to hearing from you all!
I wrote this review while participating in an ambassador program by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of the Kleenex brand and received product samples and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate. As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own and based on my personal experience with the product.