It’s interesting that most parents don’t include their kids in discussions about organizations they support with their time and/or their money. We join Boards, write checks, and volunteer to help, but how often do we talk to our kids about what we’re doing and why? It’s a missed opportunity.
No matter how old your kids are, talking about issues and organizations you care about is a great way to raise them. In fact, I’d argue that the earlier you begin these conversations the better, but it’s never too late either. The amount of your giving is irrelevant. Whether you have the capacity to write big checks or not, it’s the conversation that is important. Why talk to your kids about giving?
- It helps them develop a broader perspective
Talking about organizations and issues you care about helps your kids understand a context that is bigger than your nuclear family. Kids are naturally self-centered. Conversations about social and environmental issues, education, conservation, arts and culture and others offer an opportunity to talk about what matters to you and why. These discussions give more meaning and help kids begin to think more deeply over time. As they mature, this perspective gives context to the world around them.
- It draws attention to what you care about – beyond them
There are lots of things that distract us as adults, and it’s a lot easier to talk to kids about immediate needs. Children naturally understand that it’s important for them to help with chores around the house and do their homework because, as parents, we talk about this – sometime a LOT. We solidify in their minds where our priorities are based on what they hear us talk about. Broadening the discussion to your giving or issues you care about creates a different level of meaning for them.
- It provides an opportunity for kids to think about what matters to them
When you open up the discussion about things you care about and support, there is a natural opportunity to begin asking questions. You might start with asking if they have any questions about your decisions and the organizations you are involved with. You can then ask if there are issues or organizations they care about. This opens up the opportunity to dig deeper into questions are what causes the issue and what might be done to address it. Simple and fun dinner table conversation starters like, “What would you do if you had a million dollars?” are great openings that can be both playful and meaningful.
- It creates opportunity to learn from each other
Talking about what you care about gives you a chance to develop deeper relationships as a family. You learn from your children. They learn from you. These discussions give you insights into one another and provide an opportunity to connect in ways that you might not discover otherwise.
- It creates a broader meaning for what money can do
Particularly before children reach high school age, money is often mysterious.
They know it’s generally a good thing because it provides things: food, housing, clothing, vacations. And when the discussion includes using money and volunteer time to support issues you care about, money develops a new meaning. It’s good beyond them. Kids can develop pride and an identity toward money that goes beyond the material aspects that it provides.
Some families feel more comfortable than others with these conversations. But regardless of how you were raised and your with money and giving was when you were younger, rest assured that your kids are hungry for these conversations. Not only will you learn from your kids, it will begin a conversation that will deepen your relationship as a family.
There are some great tools to help you with these conversations as well. Many of those listed below we use in our work. And if you’d like guidance or have specific questions about how to start the process, don’t hesitate to get in touch.