9 Awesome Ways to Engage Your Children & Grandchildren
Summer is an awesome time of the year!
The weather invites us outside to experience our world. The fragrance and beauty of flowers, the tastes of garden fresh vegetables and a pace that slows so we can reconnect with family and friends.
Think back to your favourite memories. I will bet some involve two things – summer and important relationships. Whether it is time at a cottage, camping, or a trip to grandma’s house, we are wired to cherish relationships. One of the things we value most, as parents, are love and harmony throughout our family and rich times together to enjoy it.
Although money can be a tool to help us gather as a family and enjoy some fun things, it’s not a prerequisite. It certainly is not able to buy love and harmony in our families, although many incorrectly feel it can. Unfortunately, money brings baggage. And if it is not addressed, it can harm family relationships. Money easily fosters attitudes of entitlement, self-centredness, and a focus on ‘stuff’. The great news is we can be proactive and use money to enhance family relationships. Successful families have learned that generosity is the major antidote to money’s baggage. Being generous with our LIFE – Labour, Influence, Finances, and Expertise leaves the baggage behind.
When it comes to learning, more is caught than taught. Our children and grandchildren do what we do, much more easily than what we say. With extra family time in the summer, we have a perfect opportunity, together with our family, to be generous. It is a win on many levels – time together, building memories, learning about each other, and sharing some life-changing lessons along the way.
The National Christian Foundation has identified some great ideas to help us engage our families in giving (https://www.ncfgiving.com/3726//).
I have listed some of the best and added others below:
For kids under 12:
- Throw a “Reverse Gift” Birthday Party: Help your child to identify a need and ask guests to bring gifts for charity. For example, a children’s shelter could use gifts of toys, clothing, or baby items. Then bring your child along to deliver the gifts to the charity.
- Volunteer at a local charity: Hands-on family activities are fun and relevant at this age. For young children, a charity that serves other young children may be the perfect fit. Often, a child can relate to another child in a more powerful way than to an adult. Check out charities that invite you to bring your entire family along to serve for a day or a week.
- Give a gift: During a holiday, give each child an amount to use for the benefit of others. Stand back and watch the wheels of their minds begin to turn.
- Establish a family Giving Fund: This is a great way to involve family members in the decision-making process of giving (we can connect you with charitable foundations that provide this service). You have the teens research charities and causes that interest them and make gifts from an amount you allocate. Even better, tell them on top of what you have allocated, you will match whatever they give from their own earnings.
- Volunteer at a charity: See above. You can also do this in another city, region, or country as part of your family travels.
- Take a new challenge: Choose a week where your family will live on $10 a day for food. This begins to build an understanding of what much of the world must do to survive.
For young adults:
- Offer matching gifts: To encourage giving, offer to match your children’s gifts dollar for dollar.
- Make a connection: Inspire your children to give personally towards things that interest them. Ask them “what’s one area where you’d like to make an impact?”. Allow their creativity to flourish using their unique talents. It connects them to their giving and you to them.
- Take a family service trip: One doctor travels with his two adult children to work in Mexico for one week each year, providing medical assistance to children. It is a time of family bonding, full of life-changing experiences they will never forget. That far transcends a week at any leisure resort. You do not need to be a doctor, we all have skills charities can use, just ask until you find one that is a fit.
It may be a surprise, but our kids and grandkids want to connect with us, learn about us and from us and enjoy times together. Don’t let the facade of a teenager influence you. Be creative, start small and build on successes. It can start with a 15-minute job for an elderly neighbour that you do together (and an ice cap). Grandparents have a special lane to their grandkids. You do not live in their “daily issues” or typically apply discipline, so you avoid those speed bumps. As a result, grandkids are more interested, open, and receptive to your relationship. Enjoy the opportunity and have an awesome summer!