My kids have been saving money for months. A portion of their allowance goes to long-term savings, a portion goes to giving, and a bunch goes to saving for our upcoming vacation. We do the accounting online, so they rarely touch a dollar bill. For our kids this works, since otherwise the cash ends up being spent immediately on toys and trinkets that get used up or ruined. While I’m not opposed to them spending their money on trinkets, we just have too much stuff so this setup works well for us.
Occasionally they come across a dollar bill, or scoop up Dad’s change for themselves. My 7 year old in particular loves to pilfer the change and add it up in her Zillionz piggy bank. (it keeps track of the number on the top, and she loves seeing that number go up) She somehow managed to save up $4.58 and this morning announced that she was taking in two dollars (from the tooth fairy) to buy something from the school store for her friend and maybe herself if something caught her eye.
When I asked her about buying her friend a pencil/pen (no idea what this is, by the way) she said she was doing it because her friend didn’t bring in money for the school store, and she said she’d buy her one.
In the morning rush it was hard to tease out if it was that her friend had asked her to buy it, or she had offered, but I almost stopped her from taking the money in to school. I decided it was probably just my grumpy morning self talking, and let her go ahead.
I debated it a bit because she has a very generous spirit in ways. While she can stand up fro herself, she isn’t very attached to stuff. Maybe it was having older siblings who were, or maybe it’s just who she is, or a little of both, but she has always been more than willing to give something up if it makes someone else happy 90% of the time.
I am trying to find a balance for each of my very different kids between giving and generosity (which we encourage whole heartedly) and giving too much. It’s a balance I myself still try to learn, and one I hear echoed again and again by other parents, particularly moms.
When is giving not a good thing?
How can we teach our kids to give what they can (and it doesn’t need to be financial) while taking care of themselves first?
Those are the questions I struggled with half awake this morning getting her off to school. At the end of the day I still don’t have any answers.
What about you? Do you give too much? Do you feel like your kids (if you have them) are learning balanced giving? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Update: Audrey came home with a lovely thank you note and a little gift package today from her friend. I think I must be too cynical sometimes. She promptly took her things to her room so none of the other kids would pilfer her treasures. Smart girl.