This post is part of the YummyMummyClub.ca and Plan Canada’s Gifts of Hope #YMCGiftsofHope sponsored program. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors
Be careful what you say you will never do. I never thought I’d turn into my mother or say any of the annoying things she said to us as kids. But when it comes to teaching gratitude, I find myself saying the words I heard over and over again as a child, “You know a child in a developing country would love…<insert subject of current complaint>.”
Of course, I realize the futility of this tactic, as it’s hard for an 8-year-old to understand the lack that people in these countries experience on a daily basis. That’s why I love programs like the Plan Canada Gifts of Hope for giving me a concrete way to frame a discussion about gratitude and giving with my daughter.
While understanding the magnitude of the problem is beyond her grasp, connecting with the story of a young girl her age hits home, bringing tears to her eyes and a flurry of questions about why. “Mommy, why do these children not have parents? Why can’t they just come live with us? Why?”
Those were the questions she asked when we first introduced the fact that there were children in the world the same age as her who had nothing, when her Kindergarten class participated in a Christmas giving program. No toys. No frilly pink bedroom. No after school lessons. There were none of the modern trappings that we so often take for granted.
Now that she’s older, we talk about the ways we can help others. I found myself drawing on the Chinese proverb: “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” We talked about how giving gifts that can help them for a long time is far better than giving them something that will only help for a day.
I reminded her that education is the gift she gives to herself that will serve her for a lifetime and told her that we could give that same gift to women and children who weren’t even allowed to go to school. I explained that giving someone in a developing country a baby chick was similar to teaching a man to fish because that gift turns into food and income for the family and a tangible skills for the children.
Of course, I would like to say she understood immediately and was onside with the idea of giving children in other countries baby chicks and lessons in literacy, but she said that SHE wanted to add a baby chick to her wish list because she thought having a cute, fuzzy, baby chick would be awesome. (Sigh)
Rewind the discussion and remind her that this gift isn’t meant to be a toy, but the ability for these children to feed themselves and their families and learn skills that will help them for a lifetime. I asked her what she thought was a better idea, giving someone a fish? Or teaching that person to fish? She said teaching. (Whew)
These lessons in giving and gratitude are a slow process, but at least with programs like Gifts of Hope, we can teach our children about the specific needs of other children in the world and give a gift that makes a real difference thanks to donation matching gifts that multiply the impact of our gift.
This year, try an alternative to traditional gift-giving for the person who has everything or to teach your children about giving back. Through Gifts of Hope, Plan Canada supports sustainable programs dedicated to education, health, livestock, water, girls’ rights, and livelihood in the developing world. Shop now at plancanada.ca/giftsofhope.