Author Shares Strategies for Involving Kids in Giving

On Jan.15, friends of the Rose Community Foundation had the opportunity to hear from The New York Times columnist and author Ron Lieber, whose book “The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money,” was a bestseller when it was released in 2015. Lieber shared tips and advice for talking with kids about money and building values around multi-generational philanthropy.

In 2011, the Occupy Wall Street movement was underway, and Lieber’s young daughter began to ask difficult questions about money, class, and economic inequality. Rather than avoid those conversations or dismiss her inquiries, he viewed it as a chance to have a dialogue about values and virtues. He thought of the most damaging adjective someone could use to describe his children, and it was “spoiled.” So he set out to teach the opposite – curiosity, generosity, modesty, perseverance, and grit. This helped to develop the strategies outlined in his book.

Lieber suggests that kids be encouraged by their parents to allocate their money into save, spend and give jars. The spend jar teaches modesty and prudence, the save jar encourages delayed gratification, and the give jar shows the values of generosity and gratitude. So how to explain the complex topic of giving in a way that’s age appropriate? Lieber found success in connecting his children to his family’s own stories of having been helped. By teaching his kids about times that he benefited from the generosity of others, it brought the abstract concept of giving into clearer focus. Studies show that kids who feel connected to their family stories, history and values have more perspective and more readily embrace giving.

Lieber also shared practical tips for financial conversations with children. Share your charitable giving plan with your kids, and use it as an impetus to discuss your family’s values. Where did they come from? Does your charitable giving align with those values? Start a gratitude ritual in your home, a daily point of reflection to allow each family member to share something they are thankful for. If you do this often enough, conversations around the dinner table will evolve and become more meaningful.

Lieber acknowledges that through these exercises, questions from kids will come fast and furious – but every financial conversation is an opportunity to teach values and put children in touch with their inner giver.

Rose Community Foundation staff members are trained to facilitate family conversations around multi-generational giving. Philanthropy together, can, and often does, become the next chapter in a family story. We hope it will be part of yours.

Learn about more ways to give and how Rose Community Foundation can help.


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