My girls are very privileged in how they are growing up and I feel that it is very important that they are aware that not everyone is as lucky as they are.
Remember Verruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory???
I don’t think that they need to feel guilty about what they have but they should know that not everyone in the world has things that they take for granted like a home, food and water. I want them to be grateful for what they have.
Of course, like any 6 or 8 year old they focus very much on what they don’t have rather than what they do have.
We live in Discovery Bay – our community is famous in Hong Kong for being a car free neighbourhood where people get around by golf cart…. Now golf carts are crazy expensive and I can assure you that most of the residents (including us) manage just fine to get around by bus. Of course, my girls keep asking me why we don’t have a golf cart because “everyone” has one (they absolutely don’t!).
Trying to explain the value of money to them, I tell them that every month Mummy and Daddy decide what are the most important things for our family to spend our money on and then we see how much we have left for other things.
We tell them that we think that our apartment, food and school are the most important things. Then our next choice is whether to spend the money that’s left on a golf cart or holidays and travelling back to Ireland to see Grandparents and we choose holidays and Grandparents.
They get it when I explain it like that to them – for at least a week anyway until the next time they tell me that “everyone” has a golf cart except for us……
So, in a community of golf carts, private schools, domestic helpers and foreign travel adventures, I find it especially important that they are grateful, respectful and helpful to those less fortunate.
I think that each generation of parents want their children’s lives to be easier than theirs. Sometimes though, I have to stop and remind myself that my girls don’t “need” another LOL doll (even though they of course firmly believe that they do!).
I know a wonderful lady called Steph Julian. She is a teacher and, following volunteering as a teacher one summer in a school in the slums of Nairobi, Steph raised money to build a new school for the local kids.
The school is struggling financially to keep going and I wanted to do something small to contribute. As my girls know Steph too, I knew they would relate to this so I enlisted their help to organise a book and cake sale at our home to raise some much needed funds for the school.
I hoped that, at the same time, it would be a learning experience for my girls, showing them how their efforts could make a difference to young children their age who need help.
So, together we collected books from kind people in our community, made posters and set up stalls in our apartment. On the day of the sale, the girls were each in charge of a book stall.
I am very pleased to report that, thanks to the incredible support from our community, we raised enough money to fund a teacher for a whole year.
My girls saw how their efforts made a difference and they also saw what a community can do when it works together – they were amazed at the books, cakes and money donated from friends, neighbours and complete strangers!
This was a positive lesson for my girls. However, teaching our kids to be kind and caring does not have to be by way of big gestures. The little things are important like:
- contributing to the family by helping out with regular chores
- being welcoming to the new kid in class
- giving up your seat on the bus to someone who may need it more than you
- sharing with siblings and friends – as a wise purple dinosaur once said “Sharing is Caring!”
I think that one of the most important lessons, as a parent, that I can teach my kids is to always be kind and respectful to everyone. They should alway be proud of their words and their actions, regardless of how others act.
I would love to hear from other parents on this – how do you help teach your kids to be kind and caring to others?
Any volunteering opportunities for kids in Hong Kong that anyone suggests?
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