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When it comes to parenting, more is caught than taught. That’s a phrase you’ll hear from Rachel all the time. Your kids are watching you—and what you do can have a greater impact on them than what you say.
In this passage from Dave and Rachel’s #1 New York Times best-selling book Smart Money Smart Kids, Dave talks about when Rachel first started to “get” the power of giving.
When Rachel was in kindergarten, her teacher gave the students an assignment to draw a picture and write down what they would do if they had $100. I don’t know how long it has been since you’ve had a kindergartener, but to a child that age, $100 might as well be $10 million. The teacher then copied and bound the pictures and captions into a small book. She sent the book home with the kids, and we noticed it as we were looking through Rachel’s school papers from that week. Sharon and I sat on the floor in front of the couch reading the little book and laughing out loud. Those little kids sounded a lot like “grown-ups” today. Scott said if he had $100, he would buy a car that changes into everything. Allison was more realistic—she said she would buy a little dollhouse with her $100. Andrew, the budding terrorist of the class, said he would buy a football, a gun, and a bomb. (It was comforting that our child was in the same class with him.) Reid said he would buy a convertible. Kathy would buy a swimming pool with a whale like Willy from the movie Free Willy. Anna Kathryn would buy a house with a cat. (I guess with $100, she could at least get the cat.) Rachel was never our shy child. She was always doing something loud and outlandish, so we started to dread a little what her page might say.
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When Sharon and I finally turned to Rachel’s page, we were completely caught off guard. We looked at each other and realized we were both crying. Rachel’s response was, “If I had $100, I would give it to the poor people.” Maybe we were proud or being a little cheesy, but just four short years before this, we were in bankruptcy court, broke and broken. So to see one of our children understand that giving really matters gave us encouragement that, with God’s help, we really could change our family tree. We really could raise children who not only got money but got great joy from giving it.
Catching your kids at outrageous giving, or even with a spirit of giving, is enough to bring any parent to his or her knees. But just like we didn’t get it right every time, they won’t either. The key is to praise them when you catch them in the selfless actions. Tell them the beauty of seeing God working in their hearts. And when they don’t get it right, give them grace. Not every child is a natural giver, but the good news is that giving can be nurtured in them.
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