Building a Family Tradition of Generosity
The holidays are for celebrating and companionship. In recent years, our family has instituted a new holiday tradition of discussing, as a family, our priorities in supporting charitable causes. And, then following up with support for these causes.
Our children are adults, so the discussions can be open at this point. With younger children, more discretion is needed in discussions of family finances, but even young children can be part of a family conversation about giving.
Ron Lieber, in a recent New York Times article, gives parents six ideas for getting started on a family discussion of generosity. His suggestions are to discuss: why we should be generous; how to divide up the charitable pie; identifying a cause; working with school-based funds; working through giving circles; and sharing time and talent.
In our family, we have found it important to start with a discussion of family priorities. Obviously, different family members have different passions, but we also have not had trouble finding consensus around a few areas of common concern. In the case of our family, these are: education, particularly supporting educational institutions serving populations not well served by traditional schools; conservation and environmental preservation; our church; and community services, particularly institutions that reach out to disadvantaged children and women who have fallen victim to abuse.
Bringing the family together to discuss family philanthropy serves several valuable purposes, in addition, of course, to providing benefit for the supported institutions. The holidays are an ideal time to reinforce the joy, and nobler purpose, of giving back.
This brings the family together to discuss a common priority, outside or the normal, often petty, conversations that can dominate family dialogue. Also, we hope that by encouraging the discussion and giving, we, as parents, are modeling behavior we hope our children will adopt. We are making charity a priority for family discussion, and doing something about it.
Our contribution is of course modest measured against the scale of the issues we are tackling. But it is what we can do. And we hope we build a family tradition of generosity, to be carried on through future generations.
A Time for Memory Making–and Preserving
It’s easy to get caught up in preparing for and celebrating the holidays. But don’t forget to keep a record of these memories, and to share these times with those who matter. We created the Families Connect application to enable you to build your own private family web page, and to share your memories in a private network, crafted by you. Please sign-up, and give the application a try.