Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My Kids' Christmas Gift

The Holidays always provide a chance for me to reflect on the milestones of the year. It has been a great Christmas season filled with presents, good food, and loved ones. The kids are thoroughly enjoying their time off  from school along with their new toys. It seems like the season couldn't get any better, but I'm happy to report that it has taken a turn for the better. The other night,  my wife and I were on the couch discussing our day when we were interrupted by kids who we thought were asleep.  It went something like this:

5 Year Old: "Mom and Dad, we've decided that since we have so much, we want to give away one of our presents."

Parents: "Ok which one? "

5 Year Old: "We want to give our $5 Dollar Tree gift card to that lady that we always see walking. Maybe she could buy something for herself."

Parents: "Wow honey that is an awesome idea. It makes mommy and daddy happy to hear you girls trying to do things to help others."

I can't say that I've had a more proud moment as a father than I did that night. My daughters went on to tell us how they had been up discussing this among themselves which is why they weren't yet asleep. I hope their sensitivity to other people's plight stays with them for life. In light of the self-consumed behavior that we see playing out in our society, it is refreshing to see compassionate people that are truly making a difference. Their act of "unsolicited generosity" is truly what Christ would want for His birthday. Maybe the next time we're asked about what we got for Christmas, we could ask ourselves, "What have we given for Christmas?"

                           Tips on Teaching Kids to Share
As the New Year approaches I look forward to seeing what kinds of "unsolicited generosity" my girls will come up with. In the meantime here are a few ways that you can help your kids begin to learn the importance of sharing with others:

1. Read About Sharing- A kid's Bible is a great place to start the conversation about sharing. A story like Jesus feeding the multitude after a little boy shared his lunch gives a vivid example of how sharing what you have can affect others. There are also a ton of books on the market that can help wih the cause. One of my family's favorites is  "Christmas Soup" by Alice Duncan .
The girls prepping the bread at a local shelter

2. Volunteer At A Soup Kitchen- We see it on television all the time, but how many of us actually take time from our busy holiday schedules to serve a meal to those less fortunate? One of our yearly traditions is to actually take our kids with us to help serve a meal. They generally end up handing out napkins or dinner rolls, but the lessons they've learned are priceless.

3. Give Away Toys (OFTEN!)-Our kids have a ton of toys to say the least. That's why it's mandatory  in our house that every six months or so they give away some toys. We generally let them choose which ones, but they have to at least fill up one shopping bag. It is either given to a kid that they know about that might not have much or its carted off to the thrift store. Either way someone else benefits from our excess and a few more tripping hazards have been removed from the playroom!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Taking Time Out

Taking "timeout" with my girls
Every parent has at some point used timeout to discipline their kid. Getting your little tike in on some corner time after repeated disobedience has at least two benefits-1.) It's an effective alternative to spanking. 2.) It gives mom or dad a chance to regroup or calm down. But what about putting the parents in timeout for a change? Now hear me out...I'm not advocating sending daddy to the corner. What I am saying is that often times everybody needs a break from the everyday routine. The other day I decided to at least take some time out for my kids. I took a day off to attend a field trip with the wife and kids. I normally take an hour or two to attend a function but I felt like this was the day that I needed to give them my whole day. The day began with me thinking about the office but that only lasted for about an hour. After that I was fully focused on our day at the zoo. We saw lions, tigers, and bears. My favorite part was getting a chance to see the erratic flight pattern of an extremely rare white crow (I didn't know they even existed)! We also fed apple slices to a horse and a mule. Both kids and parents alike were thoroughly enjoying their "timeout" session. We stopped by one of their favorite restaurants for lunch and of course got an earful about what is happening in their world.  Now I could've had a normal day at the office with constant demands from customers and emails about the most recent department budget cutbacks. Instead, I spent the day listening to the people in this world that truly matter the most to me. There are a lot of things that this dad doesn't know but one thing is for certain, I will never get tired of hearing my daughter say, "Dad this is the best day ever!"