Thank you for all the wonderful comments that were made on our facebook page and blog posts this week in response to our Gratitude Project for making our family more aware of the need for clean water. I got some wonderful ideas from you on how some of you are working with your family on increasing gratitude, empathy and generosity.
On Fridays, for example, we give up meat and have simple suppers such as bean burritos with brown rice. Having a simple and small meal once a week can help children realize they can survive with less and gives us a chance to point out that some people in the world don’t even have that much food to eat over the course of the week.
During Lent our children give up something like TV, computer time, desserts, etc. They can also decide to do something such as help out more around the house, say some extra prayers for someone during the week, and more. By doing so, they may come to realize they don’t really need the things they gave up or perhaps they become grateful for the computer. Having not used it for weeks they realize just how much easier that little machine can make our lives. That realization can lead to an ‘A ha’ moment of gratitude.
We have been lucky that our children don’t tend to expect a treat each time we go somewhere. We have been trying to teach them the value of the dollar and how not to rely on credit. I have explained the difference between buying an ice cream bar at the zoo, for example, and buying a whole carton of ice cream at the store. Even the little ones can quickly understand how much more treat we all could have if we shop at the store instead of the zoo. That said, we do have special outing or special treats from time to time.
Another thing people do is take the money they would have spent on the treats they are fasting from and donate it to a charity. In the case of a family with young children, you could let each kid pick their favorite charity and rotate between the different interests of the children. For example, if you have a child that loves animals they could donate their money to a local shelter.
Donations of talents are also great. If someone likes to sing, you could see if they’d like to go sing at a local senior’s home. If they like to bake, they could set up a cookie stand and donate the proceeds to a charity of interest. If they are artistic, they could create cards and share them with people in the service or an adopted grandparent at a senior home.
I read a book a long time ago called Growing Compassionate Kids by Jan Johnson that prompted some great things in our family. Growing compassionate children certainly doesn’t just happen. I am eager to hear about more amazing ideas and to follow your story in particular Heather! You are such a special family!
In order to help our children “rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn” we have shared yay’s and boo’s at every meal time for several years now, each offering our favorite part of the day we were thankful for and something that wasn’t too great. It has been a great way for our children to develop skills of empathy.
If you have not yet purchased your video showing our day without water for $1.99 or the song download for $0.99, you can click here to do that now. As of this morning we have received only one video order. The person who ordered emailed to let me know she had some issues during checkout but after refreshing her page it went away. If more of you had an issue ordering please leave a comment here and we will follow up with you. Sometimes if there are website issues it is hard for us to know about them until someone contacts us to report them so if you had trouble in trying to order your song or video I am sorry, please speak up so we can fix it for you! Trisha (a Mom 4 Life blog reader) asked if I could add a “ChipIn” option for people who do not wish to purchase a video or a song. So I have created an account and provided one below (if you are getting this blog post via email you will need to visit our blog to see it). Trisha suggested that we consider “Chipping In” $1 per member of your household and I thought that was a creative idea:)!
I would love to know if this topic of gratitude and finding practical ways to help our kids learn about the needs in our world is something you would enjoy digging into deeper. I am mulling over future topics to dive into and if you would like to hear about them I am happy to share so please leave a comment to let me know if this is something that would interest you.