What do you teach your children about charity? I was having a conversation with my eldest about philanthropists in the 19th Century who set up museums and promoted social change. This lead us on to talk about charity. My son, once, had to do a public speaking competition at school and the subject was “charity
However, knowing about charity and being charitable are different things; he has raised money through sponsored events for Comic Relief and Sports Relief, but to me that is not being charitable it is fund raising.
Some religions and churches have tithing, giving 10% of income to charity, or for the good of the community, but how do you encourage a child to be charitable? Is getting them to donate a percentage of pocket money to some charity the right way to go? I know some parents who every six months get their children to give one of their toys to a local refuge or shelter.
Should being truly charitable involve hardship to the giver if it is to have true meaning? Or is it something we do for the tax benefits? Charitable giving should be voluntary, so does encouraging a child to do something then make it not charitable.
I would like to think my children were charitable, however as a considered parent should I point out the critical view of charity that it has negative long term implications or a more cynical approach as voiced as follows:
“When confronted with the starving child, we are told: ‘For the price of a couple of cappuccinos, you can save her life!’.
“The true message is: ‘For the price of a couple of cappuccinos, you can continue in your ignorant and pleasurable life, not only not feeling any guilt, but even feeling good for having participated in the struggle against suffering!’—Slavoj Žižek (2010). Living in the End Times.
I don’t know all the answers but, as father, I know I will encourage positive behaviours and caring for the less fortunate. It is a behaviour I hope my children will have, and that is more important to me than how it manifests itself whether that be putting money in a charity box, fundraising or donating a toy.
Being a dad I ask myself these questions and in the end I do what I believe to be right for each of my children, and that isn’t always the same….as the saying goes “charity begins at home” and my actions will speak louder than my words.
Till next week
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