Lesson in Generosity

On March 11, 2011 an 8.9/9.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Japan. This earthquake originated in the Pacific Ocean near Northeast Japan and has since sent fire, tsunamis and pure destruction to the country of Japan.

Like many, I woke up in the morning, my cup of coffee in hand and turned on the news. The footage was like that out of an action film. My 7am in New York was nighttime in Japan and locals were trying to get footage of what they could not see. The earthquake had happened in the evening but the aftershocks are still going on to this day…as I write this.

How very scary and absolutely disheartening for these people. The ground shakes and things crash and you can’t see a thing because on top of fires and water and earthquake and aftershocks…there is a blackout and it’s 3am.

When my Lily awoke, I told her about it. I did not, however, allow her to see the images of the destruction on television. Her 6-year-old heart probably wouldn’t be able to handle it.

Over breakfast we talked about the earthquake and what it was, we discussed the happenings of a tsunami and touched a little upon how thousands of people lost their homes and were very hurt.

Lily was concerned about the animals and the children and if they had lost their parents. This was a healthy dose of education in world news for a 6 year old before 8am!

In days since, she has questions…many questions. She looks up at me with pure innocence and says, “mommy will this happen to us? “ No. I say NO. Of course I say no. I am not ready to scare her with the truth. The truth being, yes maybe, it could happen.

She asks about our family who lives on the Gulf of Mexico. Can a tsunami destroy them? What will happen if we lose Nana and Grammy and Grandpa and Grandma? Not sure how to answer this, I change the subject. I tell her how we need to be thankful that we are safe and our loved ones are safe. I remind her of all the comforts of our home and community and suggest that maybe we think of a way to help those in Japan.

How do I take this natural disaster and turn it into a lesson in generosity with my 6 year old?

We volunteer at a dog shelter nearby. When puppies arrive, we sometimes are allowed to come in and socialize them. Lily plays with the puppies and helps feed them. She loves these times, and she knows that she’s helping out the shelter and the puppies.

We do annual toy drives, and donate clothes to a local  Community Center  and make meals for our friends when they are sick.

I want to teach Lily that giving back is as natural as breathing. We MUST always give back to those less fortunate no matter what our tax bracket. We all do good with our children, our churches, our schools ,our girl scout troops all encourage giving and doing good, but what about monetary generosity?

Last summer we had a lemonade stand on our front lawn. We sat outside on a quiet Saturday for hours and made about $10. It was a lot of fun and we met some of our neighbors. Lily kept the money. She was 5 at the time and just did not fully understand the concept of money. To her it purely was something people gave her because she gave them lemonade. Today she told me that she wants to bring back the lemonade stand and give the money to the lost kids and animals in Japan. She got it!

This truly made my heart melt. Giving is valuable on every level, but to understand the value of a monetary contribution is sometimes hard for younger kids to understand. When should we start talking about it? We all know to give during the holidays and when natural disasters strike. What about giving throughout the year? What about generosity as a language?

My friend Casey @casekidslikeike said that she hopes,  “that these ideas will stick with kids (kind of like how c is for cookie stuck with me as I grew up!) and will become a part of their hearts.” Exactly!

Have you talked to your child about the situation in Japan? How has he or she responded? What are you doing to teach generosity to your children?


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