Now that the holiday season is over, it might be a good time to reflect.
But what a great time… chock full of fun get-togethers, a cornucopia of carbohydrates and, for many of us, some exciting family drama. It’s a time of joy, a time of stress, a time of running to and fro and a time many kids experience the excitement of being given-to.
I like being given-to. It’s great. I know very few people who don’t enjoy receiving. The weird thing, however, is that the rush of getting stuff tends to wear off quickly. Perhaps you’ve noticed this with your kids. Maybe you’ve even noticed this with yourself.
Being on the other end… that is giving to others… also feels good. Generosity warms the giver’s heart and also builds heart muscle. We all want kids with strong hearts, built on the steady exercise regime of giving.
Pumping weights, jogging, swimming and other forms of exercise are not much fun when done for the first time. They make us dizzy, cause sweat to drain from our pores and create a major soreness hangover the next day. Only when our muscles begin to strengthen do we start to enjoy these activities. Once in the habit, they become enjoyable.
The same goes for being a giver. Many kids need a large amount of gentle, yet firm, prodding to begin the process of cardiac strengthening. They also need someone to show them how it’s done.
This time of year is a great time to place an exclamation point on the importance of continued generosity. The holidays have shown kids what it looks like. Now we can strongly, yet gently, encourage them to do the same:
• Encourage them to donate some of their older toys to charity.
• Suggest that they buy a less fortunate child something brand new.
• Expect them to give their grandparents, other relatives or neighbors the gift of a shoveled sidewalk, a dusted home, a spic and span garage, etc. Doing for others is extremely heart healthy.
• Volunteer as a family to feed the hungry.
• Show them how to do all of these things with a joyful attitude.
All in all, the best thing we can give our kids is a giver attitude. While it takes plenty of reps, it will eventually build them into people with strong and loving hearts.
Dr. Charles Fay