Are Your Kids Givers or Takers?
By Joey & Carla Link
December 18, 2019
Once kids understand what Christmas is, they want to get gifts for those they love. They wonder if they can get you to pay for them or if they are going to have to spend their own money. Perhaps they have been saving it for something they want and to spend it on others is just too painful. When they start hinting as to how much money you are willing to “loan” them for this reason, parents often fling around Acts 2:35,
“It is better to give than to receive.”
It doesn’t matter if your child is 5 or 15 years old, it’s hard for him/her to believe that when he has been saving for something he really, really wants, convincing him he should delay his/her gratification by a month or longer so he can spend it on getting a gift for his brother after he was mean to him is a very difficult sell. You might be tempted to tell him he is getting what he has been saving for at Christmas, but decide not to spoil that surprise because that it shouldn’t have any bearing on having a spirit of giving anyway.
Teaching your kids that it is better to give than receive doesn’t start with buying Christmas presents; at least it shouldn’t start there. It starts with a willingness to give of themselves to help others. It goes back to the “mines”! How many times have you heard one of your children (older than age 5 yrs.) say “That’s mine?!”
- Is he willing to let one of his siblings sit in the seat in the car closest to the front, or does he think because he always gets there first or because he is the oldest it is his?
- Is he willing to let one of his siblings have a bigger or better piece of dessert or is it always, “That’s not fair! I never get the biggest piece!”
- Was he willing to share his/her toys or did he keep them to himself, yet expected his siblings to share theirs with him?
Giving is not always about money or material things. It is an attitudethat reflects what is in his heart. Either he/she is characterized as a giver or a taker. Some kids seemed to be better givers. Christ followers realize all they have is a gift from God and joyously give of what God has given them to both their church and to others.
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart,
not reluctantly or under compulsion,
for God loves a cheerful giver.”
1 Corinthians 9:7
When you encourage your child to buy a gift for someone from their own money, you are teaching them to give as God has given to them.
- How well do your kids understand the sacrifice it was for God to allow His son to leave heaven and go live on earth for 33 years? How would they like to go live with someone else for a year? It’s because of that gift God gave us in Jesus Christ, that we choose to give something that would please or bring pleasure to others.
- Helping your kids understand this concept and actually apply it will take more than one conversation. You will ask them why they chose to get that gift over something else that is more expensive, but their sibling really wants. It’s finding out what was the motivation of their heart regarding what they gave and whythey gave it.
The “why” is so much more important
than “what” they give ever will be.
As your kids open up their presents this Christmas, we encourage you to pay attention to how appreciative they are for what they get. Do they openly show disappointment that it wasn’t a “better gift” or that they simply did not like or appreciate it? If they are not satisfied, don’t do or say anything. Please do not tell them you will get it at the after-Christmas sales!! Look for other instances they are focused on what they are getting vs. what they are giving over the holidays. You may learn a certain child needs training to develop a giving heart.
Jot the things you notice down, and have a one-on-one (or better yet, both parents with this particular child) conversation with him/her.
- Ask him if he thinks he is characterized by a heart of giving or one of getting.
- Ask him to give you a situation that happened that week of each.
- Ask him why he chooses to give.
- Ask him why he chooses to take or get.
- Ask him to come up with a way he could have handled each “getting” situations you jotted down as a giver.
- Ask him if he is willing to work on his selfishness. If so, have him come up with one way he will work on it that next week.
- At the end of the week get together with him again and grade him on how you think he did and have him grade himself too.
- Encourage him if he has done well, and if not, ask him how he intends to improve that grade the next week.
- Keep it up until it becomes an ingrained habit to think as a “giver” instead of a “taker”.
- Remember your goal is to root out self-focused attitude and not just cut off the top of where this selfish weed comes from.