I told my husband the other day that we need to start thinking about having another baby.
Otherwise, our baby girl is going to grow up to be a serious princess.
She’s just too stinkin’ cute! And with two big brothers who adore her just as much as we do, she pretty much gets whatever she wants whenever she wants and gets away with it.
Not surprisingly, my husband gave me “a look.”
A look that said, “Really? A baby? We can’t just teach her not to throw temper tantrums when she doesn’t get her way? Wouldn’t that be easier?”
Okay, fine. You’re right. Yes, it would be way easier to teach our children to be more considerate of others rather than to just keep popping out new ones.
(Even though a new baby would be stinkin’ cute…)
And as parents, that’s part of the job description.
But even more than that, it’s also a part of our responsibility as Christians: Not just to raise good kids and not just to help the poor and needy, but also to teach our children to care about the same.
To cultivate mission-minded families where it’s part of our family culture to love, care for and serve others – especially those who are less fortunate than ourselves.
And the good news? It’s a lot easier than you might think. Here’s how:
*But first – a special thank you to Food for the Hungry for sponsoring today’s post!
1. Become Aware of the Real Problems Others Face
I remember one year trying to explain to my oldest that not all mommies and daddies could afford Christmas presents for their children, so we were going to buy extra presents for kids in need.
“But Santa will just bring them presents, mommy!”
Oops, so much for that idea.
Seriously, though, most of our children (especially the youngest ones), truly have no idea that other people have it differently than they do.
They assume that if they are getting a pile of Christmas presents on Christmas morning, that everyone else is too. Or if they have plenty of food to eat in the cupboards, that everyone else does too. Obviously everyone has a mommy and daddy who love them, who make them eat their vegetables, and who buy them lots of cool toys.
(Or, when they start to get older, they start to go to the other way and think that they’re so deprived and everyone else has it better!)
That’s why it’s so important that we teach our children (and educate ourselves!) about the very real struggle so many people around the world have with poverty.
Obviously, the conversation will change depending on the ages of our children (our 2 year old isn’t quite ready for it yet!), but it’s a conversation that we need to be having on and off as our children grow and mature.
2. Start Small
Next, once your family starts to become aware of the problem of poverty, it’s time to start taking small steps to get involved and make a difference.
After all, it’s one thing to say “Helping other people is important.” But if you aren’t actually DOING IT, you’re actually teaching your children that it’s not really that important at all.
Thankfully, again, it doesn’t have to be too difficult to get started. For example, you could:
- Pray for missions organizations on the front line, such as Food for the Hungry
- Give a one-time financial gift (Food for the Hungry will match it 22x!)
- Find out if your workplace offers a matching program for charitable donations (many do!)
- Sponsor a child in need
While these small steps may not seem like enough to make a huge difference, you’d probably be surprised to learn just how much of a difference they really do make.
(After all, remember what God did with five loaves of bread and two fish?)
And remember — Food for the Hungry matches donations 22x! So even if you can only give $20, that’s like giving $440 after the matching grants!
And then, once you’re in the habit of regularly giving in small ways, you can always bump up your giving to give and serve more.
3. Look for Ways to Involve the Whole Family
One drawback of only giving financially, however, is that it doesn’t tend to involve the whole family. After all, who writes a check and then go tells their children all about it later that same day?
That’s why it’s also important to look for ways to intentionally involve the whole family. You really want to set that example and make helping missions a very normal part of your children’s lives, even from a young age.
Here are a few easy ways you can do just that:
- Have your children help you brainstorm ways to help
- Have your children help raise the money to donate through chores, a garage sale or other fundraising efforts
- Bring your children into the service with you when missionaries speak at your church
- Invite missionaries and other world-changers over for dinner to share their experiences
- Do these fun activities together
- Bring your children with you to do various community service activities
- Write letters to missionaries or children overseas
Doing things like this as a family not only provides a wealth of teaching opportunities for your children, but it really helps make a difference to those in need as well! (And they’re fun!)
4. Guard Against a Culture of Entitlement
Of course, no matter how diligent you are to teach your children to think about others and help those in need, we do live in a very entitled culture, and you’re going to have to be diligent about finding ways to guard against that.
In fact, it seems like every time our kids turn around, they are faced with another message telling them to want “more, more, more!”
From commercials on TV to social media to well-meaning friends and family members at Christmas, American children these days are taught to be entitled.
That means it’s your job – as a parent – to help guard against that.
- Model a life of giving and appreciation, and talk about with your children.
- Ask your children heart-revealing questions. Things like, “Why do you want that toy so badly? What do you think will happen if you get it or if you don’t get it?”
- Monitor what influences your children surround themselves with. What are they watching on TV? What movies are they watching? What are their friends into?
Raising a mission-minded family isn’t easy. It’s easy to get caught up in all the things we want and think we have to have to stay caught up with the Joneses.
But again and again the Bible reminds us to care for the poor and the needy. It’s our God-given duty and our responsibility. And the four steps outlined above will help you do just that!
Do you involve your children in any type of missions/community service work? How do you get them involved?