Teaching Teenagers About Giving

Phillip asks Dave for some good ways to teach his kids about giving versus getting at the holidays. Dave explains that one of the most important things Phillip can do is talk about it.

QUESTION: Phillip on Twitter asks Dave for some good ways to teach his kids about giving versus getting at the holidays. Dave explains that one of the most important things Phillip can do is talk about it.

ANSWER: One thing you've got to do is talk about it—a lot—because they're bombarded with messages about how important they are and how important fulfilling their little wishes is.

The average person in 1971 saw 564 advertising impressions a day. The average person today sees about 4,000 advertising impressions in one day. What's the purpose of advertising? The purpose of advertising is to disturb you to get you to buy something. "I'll be happier, sexier, thinner, more satisfied, more fulfilled if I buy…something." That's the purpose of advertising. This is what your kids are drilled with every day. They will see well in excess of two to five million advertising impressions by the time they're 20 years old. It affects them. It makes them start to think that the axis of the world runs through the tops of their little heads. You have to talk through that a lot. You have to consider that the other side—advertising and marketing—is more aggressive in their teaching than you are in yours. Your only hope is to be more effective. But part of it is just talking about it. Don't just assume that they know anything, because they don't.

Find some giving exercises you can do. What are some things you can do to give? Take the kids with you. Adopt a single mom in your local church. Take them with you to the store to buy gifts for the children, to buy their Christmas tree this year, to buy their whatever. Take them with you to go over to their house. Let them be inconvenienced by the process of giving. Let them experience the people's grateful—or sometimes not grateful—response when you give. Let them physically be involved in the whole deal. Find some things that don't even involve money. You could take them with you and go serve dinner at the local homeless shelter. Anything like that you can do that they are physically engaged in doing for others, it'll change them.

One of the best things we ever did as parents with our teenagers was send them on mission trips. It changed their lives. When you see poverty and you walk in poverty and you sleep in poverty—real poverty, not American poverty—it changes you every single time. And when you're 13, it changes you.

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