“It is more blessed to give than to receive” Acts 20:35 “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” Mother Teresa
Generosity is a virtue entirely proper to the seasons of Advent and Christmas. During this time, we witness the selfless love of God who set the stage for our salvation as well as sent his beloved only Son to give his life for us.
Generosity is an attitude of service, not just a mere action. The measure of generosity is now how much we give, but how we give.
Characteristics of Generosity:
Joy: we put God and others before ourselves. JOY stands for Jesus, Others, Yourself
Purity of Intention: we give out of love, not for what we receive in return, which may be nothing (especially in the case of the less fortunate)
Gratitude: we realize that the gifts that we have are truly gifts, gifts that are meant to be shared, not hoarded.
Being attentive to those around me: it can be hard to recognize other’s needs if we do not practice be aware of those around me and what they might need.
Being a good receiver: A generous person also knows how to receive gifts and help from others. They are gracious when they receive these things, without feeling entitled or counting it as “a favor repaid”.
Sacrifice: An act of generosity will usually cost something- be it monetary, or time, or personal.
Prudence: knowing that my gift is truly meeting a need, and knowing how much I can give. Acts of generosity should not be to the detriment of my own person. It requires being a good steward of the gifts that I have.
Ways to foster generosity in your child:
Encourage your child to be intentional in giving and sharing, rather than seeking positive attention or affirmation for doing a good deed.
Help your child to realize that you can live generosity in giving things that aren’t necessarily material things: you can give time, you can give attention, you can give kind words. We can be generous with all our senses.
Exposing children to needs around them can be very helpful. We can help them see that we have so many things that we often take for granted, and there are many people who do not have many of the basic necessities of life.
Another thing to help with awareness of other’s needs is to model that awareness and ask questions to help them think through the situation. (ie: It looks like she has a lot of things to carry- is there something you could do to help?)
Allow children to freely choose acts of generosity rather than obliging them. Rather than present needs as statements, use questions, so that they can answer for themselves.
Teaching good stewardship in the use of the gifts we have and what we give. Instead of enforcing a blind generosity (“share everything all the time”), encourage them to see the need and to respond in a way that is appropriate to the situation. (ie: if someone forgot their snack, it would be good to share with them. However, that does not mean giving up your entire snack to give to that person. Maybe sharing part of your favorite snack, rather than just giving the thing you don’t like, would be the right act of generosity.)
How do you foster generosity in your child? Please share ideas in the content section.
Sarah Oryschak a consecrated member of Regnum Christi and is a campus minister for the Lower School at Pinecrest Academy. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Pinecrest Academy is a private PreK3-12 Catholic school located in Cumming, South Forsyth, just minutes from Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton and Suwanee. We serve families of all faiths seeking a Christian education for their children.