Need, not greed, as motivation for kids

A few years ago, my son asked that, instead of getting him presents for his 11th birthday, guests donate to a certain charitable undertaking in India.

Too many kids in our materialist society, if asked if they would like to do something similar for their birthday might look at you strangely and answer, “No way!”

Like most parents, I want my kids to evolve into caring citizens who are aware of and want to help others. It’s not always easy to find the right way to do it — to walk the fine line between opening their eyes and guilt-tripping, between understanding the differences and needs of others and patronizing them.

So we can be thankful that promoting philanthropy among children and young people is suddenly becoming a hot topic. There is a new NBC show, “The Philanthropist,” about a dashing globetrotter who provides relief to the needy and oppressed. In May, AOL started an initiative with the Philanthropy Project. Last month, a group of about 20 representatives of different universities and colleges gathered at Brandeis University for the first national conference on teaching philanthropy.

Why now? I would think that in these economic times, people would be hunkering down, worrying about themselves and their own needs, rather than others.

Not so, said Susan Crites Price, author of “The Giving Family: Raising Our Children to Help Others” (Council on Foundations, 2001).“Talk about a teachable moment,” Ms. Price said. “This economy was clearly brought on by greed, and this is a time we need to step up and help people who need help.”

[Includes excerpt of New York times article by Alina Tugend]

No comments: