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Ask Dave

Teaching The Kids To Be Givers

Linda asks about some ways to teach her kids to be givers as they grow up. Dave tells Linda how he did it.

QUESTION: Linda on Twitter asks about some ways to teach her kids to be givers as they grow up. Dave tells Linda how he did it.

ANSWER: All three of my children are great givers. I think there’s a multi-layered thing in your parenting that causes them to be givers. The first thing is that little children are not logical in their giving. They’re lavish in their giving. Most of them are very impulsive, very childlike, and very sweet in their giving. The first thing it does is just melts the parents’ hearts. They are sweet, and they’re stupid too because 20 minutes later they’ll go, “Where’s all my money?” because they forgot. They’re childlike—childish—in their giving. That’s a good place to start. Reinforce that. Just say, “Giving is an awesome thing.” Teach them to be wise givers, age appropriately. We don’t want to turn everything into a lesson. Life’s too short. Just teach them to be givers in terms of when they give and encourage them to give.

The second thing we’ve done is as Christians, we believe that we don’t own anything—that we’re called to manage it. I don’t own things. I just manage them for God. He has put me in charge of the management—not you. You don’t get to manage the stuff He gave me to manage. That’s my job. And so I don’t really need your input, thank you, on whether I’ve done a proper job or whatever. If I ask you, then I’ll take your input, but the size of car I drive or where I live or whatever—I just couldn’t give a flip less what you think about that. So I’m a manager. That’s what I’ve taught my kids. They’re managers. When you don’t own anything, when you’re just managing it, it’s easier to give it away.

We were doing some charity things the other day here in the company, and we were donating $10,000, which is a lot of money, to this situation, and I called my controller up and said, “Write a check for $10,000 to such-and-such charity.” You know, my controller didn’t go, “Wait a minute!” There was no emotion for my controller to write that check. Why? Because my controller doesn’t own the money. They work for the owner. I’m the owner. They just gave away my money. It was not painful at all for her to give away my money. When you’re not the owner, it’s not as painful to give.

First, you want to encourage natural giving. Secondly, you want to set them in a different mindset that they’re not the owner anyway. “These aren’t your toys. These are toys that God asked you to manage for Him. One of the beauties of that is you get to play with the toys. But sometimes, one of the things you need to do is to give some of those away to someone else who needs them.” That creates that layer of giving.

As the children get older, your job is to teach them to be a little bit more wise and more thoughtful in their giving patterns. Again, for instance, as an evangelical Christian, we tithe. We give a tenth of our income to our local church, and so as our kids started reaching the age that they were doing fractions and math, we could teach them about one-tenth of your income goes to your local church where you attend. That’s part of the management contract that you have with God.

Lastly, do very practical things where the children actually experience the giving hands-on and they see the result. So adopt a single mom, take an angel tree gift to a child. Your children need to be involved in picking that out and then delivering it and actually experiencing being a giver. That is serious fun. I recommend you help them experience that—to feel what it’s like to cause someone to be blown away by a gift. That is really cool. And to let your child feel that—let them feel what it’s like to hold money and then release it or hold things and then release them.