Why Do We Need To Teach Children To Give?
Stewardship is not just for adults. It is important that young people also learn that they are greatly blessed by God and that God, in turn, expects them to share their blessings. Due to the extraordinary emphasis on commercialism and materialism in our society today, there is an increased awareness within charitable organizations across the country, including parishes, that we must teach our children the importance of giving while they are young and before they are caught up in a culture that teaches them to constantly strive for more and better material possessions for themselves. Consider the following:
- All charities are seeing a noticeable and alarming decline in giving by young people.
- Yet, adjusting for inflation, the average young adult spends 5x more than their parents did per year, just a generation ago.
- Kids receive 3,000 ad messages a day (including those now being imbedded into movies and television.) By the time they are 21 they will have received 23 million advertising messages.
- Typically, giving only happens after all our needs are met.
- Advertising trends are convincing young people that new technology, material possessions and lifestyles that would have once been considered as luxuries and “wants” are now “needs.”
- As advertisers excel at teaching young people that everything is a need, we must excel at teaching them stewardship – that giving is a need, too.
Stewardship Is Good for Children
Just as the stewardship way of life is a fulfilling and joyful lifestyle for adults, it is also a very good lifestyle to teach our children. Consider the benefits:
- Stewardship can help build self-esteem. The advertisements that children hear in the commercial world often carry the underlying, subtle message that you are not good enough the way you are and therefore you need to acquire this product or that product to make you acceptable. In church kids need to hear a different message. They need to hear that God has already blessed them with all the gifts and talents that they will need. In fact, God has given them an abundance of good things and they have enough to share.
- Stewardship can make children happier. Unfortunately, in today’s world, children are bombarded with materialistic messages that often lead to a sense of entitlement and to frustration and dissatisfaction with life. In contrast, stewardship encourages an attitude of gratitude. Experts tell us that children usually form their attitudes about sharing sometime between the ages of 6 and 10. They will either develop an entitlement attitude – “The world owes me.” “I don’t have enough.” Or a stewardship attitude – “I have been blessed.” “I am happy to share.” It is impossible to be grateful and unhappy at the same time. As we count our blessings, we naturally find a sense of peace and contentment.
- Stewardship helps children set priorities. As children learn that they are called to give back something to God they also learn that they must let go of some of their own wants. Stewardship teaches children the difference between needs and wants. Children learn to concentrate on their blessings rather than on what they want.
- Stewardship prepares children for their adult role in the Church. Children need to learn that stewardship is not just a service project that they must do before they can be confirmed or graduate. Stewardship is a way of life. It is the way a good Christian lives every day of every year.