Four Conversations You Should Have with Your Teen

posted by Talk About Giving blog team

July 5, 2012 @ 9:00 am

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Most of us expect our children to complete some sort of household responsibilities, whether that’s cleaning their bedroom, unloading the dishwasher, or taking out the trash. We give them chores not because we want a clean house (ok, well, that’s part of the reason), but because we are teaching them to become responsible, self-sufficient adults.

The same principle applies for teaching our children to give. We’re not including our children in our family’s philanthropic activities simply so they’ll be aware that we make charitable donations. Rather, we hope to give them the values and tools they’ll need to become adults who care about making a difference in their world.

As our children grow and mature, our conversations about philanthropy should too. Volunteering at an animal shelter or raising funds for kids’ cancer prevention are great activities when your children are small, but once they reach double digits, we should help them explore the larger portrait of philanthropy. Start this journey with your older children by starting conversations with them; remember, it’s their chance to explore, so let them talk.

Here are a few thought-provoking questions that can open deeper conversations about what it means to be a giver.

  1. Whom should I give my money to? Unfortunately, we’ve all heard stories about disreputable nonprofits. Chat with your child about this reality and then discuss what makes a nonprofit a good recipient for financial support.
  2. Why should I give regularly? Whether it’s time, money, or other support, most of us give to multiple organizations multiple times a year. Share with your kids why this is important to you.
  3. How can my small contribution change anything when the issue is so big? For older teens, some causes or issues might seem overwhelming or far from immediate results. Take this opportunity to discuss the power of cooperation to effect change.
  4. What if I don’t make a lot of money? How do I afford to give? Here’s a great chance to talk about budgeting, priorities, and self-control – all fantastic lessons for your teen, right?

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