Parent: teach your child about charity

I am very fortunate to live in a neighborhood with a small-town feeling within the large suburb of Silicon valley. And one of the things that makes us such a neighborhood is the parties we have s few times a year.
Last weekend I discovered a small organization that I would like to tell all the world about: Animal Beacons of Light.
On a quarter-page size flyer it says:
”Animal Beacons of Light gives people specific, tangible ways to share their love, care and nurturing with children of all ages. Donations of new and gently-used soft stuffed animals are freshened, energized with love, joy and Reiki and gifted to recipients around the world. We operate through the generosity of others, whether their donations come in the form of money, time, energy or stuffed animals.”
What a wonderful cause, and what a great way to model to your child how charity works!
A word of advice: Do not rush to donate your child’s animals without his or her consent. You do not want your child to feel his or her parents care for someone else more than they care for them. You can start by talking to your children, and get an extra animal to donate when you get one for them. Charity should not hurt the giver, and a child that is attached to a toy  is not in a position to give it to anyone.

Parents as Life Coaches II

There are two main ideas I liked in the article I just shared with you: One is that parenting is like life-coaching, and the other is Xeroxing.

Parenting is life coaching. The goal of the parents is to prepare their child to be a healthy, productive adult in society. For that goal, they create many experiences that will teach the child how to become such an adult: They send him or her to school, read to her, listen to him.

That metaphor might not be clear if you do not know much about coaching, so here it is in a nutshell: Coaching is creating a relationship between two individuals, where one is giving the other information, encouragement, and support to reach the recipient’s goals. If it is a swimming coach, for example,  s/he does not have to be a great swimmer, but has knowledge of what a great swimmer needs: When does the swimmer need to be pushed to work harder, when does s/he need to go easy on the swimmer, what will inspire him or her, what will help the swimmer stick to the work, the practice, the discipline it takes to reach the swimmer’s goal.

You can see how this describes the parents’ role as well: A parent cannot live his or her child’s life. A parent cannot decide what the child likes, what moves him or her, what s/he is good at – and what is his or her passion. The child is not a mirror-image of the parent. S/he is different genetically, emotionally, has different strengths and weaknesses and lives in a different historical context. If in one century it was a good idea to become a doctor, later on it seems to be better to be a lawyer, or an engineer, or have a degree in business.  A career choice that worked for the parent might not be a good one for the child, for many reasons.

That is why I like the concept of “Xeroxing” – it is such a good metaphor for explaining to parents what is wrong with asking children to fulfill the parents’ dreams. Let your child have her or his dreams – and coach your child the best you can to reach them!