In a recent issue of Parents magazine, there’s a small section in an article about modeling gratefulness and compassion to your child, so they can learn to be helpful, compassionate, and happy. And that got me thinking about the ways my husband and I model compassion in our every day. Since before we started trying to have kids, my husband and I talked about how we were going to help our future children learn to be grateful, giving members of their community, which isn’t always easy in today’s world.
Here’s how we’re helping our daughter create a habit of gratefulness and a giving back into every day:
Monthly Gratefulness and Giving Back: Collecting Non-Perishables
Every time we go grocery shopping, we buy a few non-perishables. It only adds five to 10 dollars to the grocery bill, and by the end of the month, we’ve collected enough to donate to Roadrunner Foodbank or another charity in need of food donations.
Daily Gratefulness and Giving Back: Donating When We Can
I would love to be able to donate vast sums of money to worthy causes. I wish I could save every animal and give money to anyone who asks. But we have an extremely tight budget, so that just isn’t an option right now. But we try to donate to causes we feel are important in two ways:
- saving our change and donating at the end of the week/month
- giving small sums—five to 10 dollars—when and if we can
No, it’s not a lot, but it’s the best we can do right now. But thanks to crowdfunding for those in need, many people donating five to ten dollars can add up!
Gratefulness and Giving Back in Joy: Donating During Special Moments
An essential part of my culture and religion is taking time to give thanks for reaching special moments through words of thanks as well as giving to others. To give thanks for our daughter’s first birthday, we asked guests to bring a pair of socks to donate to Socks for Sandwich, a charity that provides socks to homeless shelters and disaster relief programs instead of gifts. (Yes, I understand this practice is looked down upon, but it was a family party, and everyone liked the idea.) For our daughter’s birthday this year, we bought her a teddy bear from Mama Bear’s Place, a charity that gives a bear to a child at UNM Children’s Hospital when you buy one for your child. We’ve even started this tradition for our birthdays and other holidays.
Every Day Gratefulness and Giving Back: Taking a Moment to be Thankful
It’s the everyday moments—your child’s smile and laughter, a sunset, the first snow of the year, soft summer evenings—that sometimes provide the most joy. We’ve all heard about mindfulness, and that’s the idea—taking a deep breath, being in the moment, drinking in your surroundings and what’s happening, and then taking a moment to be thankful for it all. It’s nothing special, and that’s the idea—gratefulness for small moments.
As the article says, “What’s the endgame? This means considering the skills you want your child to learn, as well as the values you want to instill. That’s the biggest picture of all.” Our endgame is to help our daughter become someone who practices daily moments of gratefulness and makes her corner of the world a little better. And, hopefully, we’ll make our little corner of the world a bit better in the process.