We’ve talked before about Ron Lieber’s clever way of capturing the goal of what we’re all trying to do as parents. “The opposite of spoiled,” he writes (in his book of the same name), that’s what kind of kids you want. That’s what ‘success’ is at this job.
You want to raise kids who aren’t entitled. Who are self-sufficient. Who are decent and kind, part of the solutions not the problems of the world and of their generation. Successful or struggling, you want your kids to be generous. With their time, with their money, with their talents.
So what’s the secret? There isn’t one. Except, as we’ve said over and over and over again, modeling the traits you’d like to see in them. If you want generous kids, you have to show them what a generous parent is. If you want your kid to be a helper, you have to show them what that looks like.
There is no better time than the holiday season to do this. While other families so easily slip into the temptations of materialism and gluttony on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years or the countless sales commemorating them, you can use this time to focus on people who are less fortunate. You show them what it means to be a giver–by volunteering, by donating, by thinking about what others need rather than what you want. You can take your kids with you. You can give them an opportunity to have input, to identify a cause or a family to help.
You can, you must–be what you want to teach your kids. It will make them better, and it will improve you in the process. Together, you’ll make the world better.