Combining a couple of ideas into this post, I wanted to share the recent mat chats with everyone, AND share some tips to how to teach your kids about money.
Mat Chats for Generosity
The mat chat is focused on giving, or generosity. It’s timely for the season, but really the goal is developing the character trait of generosity, rather than the actual giving of gifts. Because of the season, it does make sense to acknowledge the gift giving aspect of generosity, and use it as an opportunity to talk about money.
We started this theme as a direct segue from our last theme of thanksgiving. Ideally generosity flows from a thankful heart. It’s not really generous if you give something you’re forced to give!
We then made sure the students understand that giving doesn’t have to be about giving THINGS. Our most precious gifts to others are not about things we can buy, but rather what we share of ourselves. We can give a smile, a word of encouragement, or lend a hand. But in order to do those things we have to notice others.
Moving from self to others
Thinking about others instead of ourselves is a process that takes our whole life. We start out as infants with a world that only extends to the edge of our body! Gradually mom, dad, siblings and other relatives enter the infant’s world. But the center of that world is ME! As I grow, it’s a painful process realizing I am NOT the center of the world. Painful for me AND for those around me (as any parent of a 2-3 year old knows!)
We sometimes think that by the time a child is 4 or 5, they understand their separateness and relative place in the world. But really, it is a process that I don’t think ever ends. We at Warriors of Grace want to do everything we can to get the students to think of others first. But even over 50, I have to admit there are times I revert to just paying attention to my own needs and wants, without regard to others!
The conversation about becoming generous is really all about being aware of others and thinking of what they can give others. We won’t give an offer of help, if we’re not aware that someone could use help! We won’t give a smile unless we’re aware of the other person in the first place!
Sometimes it can be easier to do something RIGHT when you better understand the consequence of doing something WRONG. In this case, we describe a person who does NOT notice others, and is NOT a giving person. Most kids can understand selfishness and know they don’t want to be thought of as selfish. Thinking of others is an antidote to becoming selfish!
So how to tie generosity in a conversation about money?
First, I want to encourage you to have regular conversations with your kids about money. The more you are open and able to talk about it, the smarter your kids will be on the topic. It’s important to have age appropriate conversations, and ideally in natural responses to situations as they occur. Older kids can have specific “lessons” when they’re ready.
Here is an article worth reading if you haven’t given any thought to these kinds of conversation.
In the Judeo-Christian worldview (and in fact many other religions), we are encouraged to give our money away. Imagine how much small the safety net from our government would need to be if we all made regular contributions towards meeting the needs of those who can’t meet their own needs. Wow! It would be a different world, wouldn’t it!!
If God says it important to take care of others, maybe we ought to consider it important, too! We’re always talking about putting others first, so let’s extend that to be the first thing you do when you receive money (your paycheck, for example.) Set aside money to GIVE.
Then pay yourself. In the form of savings for the future or for large items requiring saving. Yes! Imagine a world without debt! That would be a totally different world too! And it can be done. By saving before you buy rather than putting anything on credit.
After you’ve given, after you’ve paid yourself in the form of savings, then you know what you have left over and you can budget from there. Give – Save – Live. The secret to living a financially healthy life!
I recognize that this is way too simplistic for a lot of you and everyone is in different situations. People do need help to get through hard times (that’s why we give in the first place!)
But this is a pretty simple message that you can over time teach your children. I feel confident that everyone can agree that generosity is a worthwhile trait. Giving can be in any number of ways.
We believe in God, and we believe he blesses our giving. We believe he loves us immensely and will not fail to take care of us, even in our darkest days. When we give, we are trusting that God will provide what we need. But whatever your beliefs, teaching your kids about giving and money is important.