November of 2012 brought us our first grandchild and with our grandson came a myriad of hopes and dreams. What will he be like? What will he contribute to society? How will his faith be shaped? Recently, his parents dedicated themselves to teaching him about God. So they are off to a great start!
But how will our grandchildren learn about the joys of living a generous lifestyle? One word we never have to teach a young child is “mine.” In fact, from the moment of birth, children will demand that all attention be on them. When a child wants to be fed she/he will inform the whole community. When he or she wants to be changed, everyone had better drop everything else and attend to the mess. In short, “my will be done or else.”
So, the challenge is to inspire a growing child or grandchild to move along the continuum, from self-centredness to unrestrained generosity. Grandparents can have a powerful influence on their grandchildren by teaching virtues like diligence, honesty, hard work, patience, and sacrifice. Learning to connect with grandchildren, either through personal interaction, times away together, linking up through social media, or telling life’s stories, is key to establishing a solid relationship through which life’s values can be conveyed.
Ideas for transmitting the value of generosity to grandchildren include:
- insist that a portion of any monetary gift, including inheritance be used for sharing.
- foster Christmases where the focus is on giving rather than receiving.
- model hospitality, contentedness and gratitude.
- partner with the grandchild’s parents in teaching what it means to be stewards of money.
- take your grandchildren on a missions trip—a vacation with meaning.
- teach the value of money—not bailing out for consumptive wishes nor covering all educational costs
- allow grandchildren to face the consequences of misspent money and to learn the cost of borrowing.
- tell stories of God’s generosity and how love motivates us to be generous.
- create a family legacy of generosity, focused on abundant sharing rather than accumulation.
Author and pastor Randy Alcorn suggests, “The most fundamental lesson any child can learn about finances—even more important than saving—is the lesson of giving.” Let’s inspire our grandchildren to be faithful in joyful giving.
Arnie Friesen is a stewardship consultant at the Abbotsford, B.C. office of Mennonite Foundation of Canada. For more information on impulsive generosity, stewardship education, and estate and charitable gift planning, contact your nearest MFC office or visit www.Mennofoundation.ca.