Charity Schmarity

With the holidays upon us, I find myself wondering, once again, if I am doing enough to encourage acts of charity from my child. I am uncomfortable with the focus on charity reaching a fever pitch around the holidays and then lying dormant the rest of the year. Or at least that is how it seems to go for most families. For our family, we are heavily involved in a charity (Boxer Rescue) so for us it is a year-round affair (feeding and caring for dogs that don't belong to us, attending rescue events, etc.) However, we are still faced with the specter of our daughter's lengthy Christmas wish list each year. I feel the need to counter the "I wants" with at least one concrete, tangible "I give."

Last year, we adopted an angel tree recipient named Bianca. I purposely chose a girl who was close to my daughter's age in case it might help A to identify with Bianca in some way. Well, I am embarrassed to admit it, but my kid did not lose any sleep over Bianca's plight. There was no real empathy, no mi casa, su casa action.

So, I think I should try a new tactic this year. I think maybe I should let her choose a charitable endeavor on her own. I sat down with her this afternoon and suggested that she should think about donating part of her allowance to a charity. She gave me an odd look.

"A charity?"

"Yes," I said. "You know . . . do something nice for, or give a little donation to, someone you don't know. A stranger."

She looked even more confused now. "A stranger?  Well, we don't know the people in that one house down the street. I guess I could give them some money." 

"Oh, I didn't mean to pick a random . . . hey, let's talk about this later, okay?

I don't know. I don't feel like a charitable act should be something that's forced. Charity shouldn't be limited to the holidays either, of course. What's a mom to do?

At the holiday parade with her pop