By John Yan
This post was originally published on Mr. Yan’s blog on WordPress as a part of our Effective Giving Bloggers Program. When you sign up for our Effective Giving Bloggers Program, we’ll send you a voluntary writing assignment each month. Write something, post it and tag us. By doing this you’ll help spread the word about effective giving. Learn more about our Effective Giving Bloggers Program and other volunteer opportunities here.
“How can we introduce the idea of charitable giving to children? What are the best ways to teach children about the value of philanthropy?”
I’m going to take the liberty of interpreting the prompt a bit generously. I consider myself fully unqualified to talk about how to teach children. But I can talk about what I’d like to teach my own.
When I took the “Giving What We Can” pledge, I asked myself what losing at least 10% of my income would look like. I live well below my means already, so the pledge would only impact my future plans. I might need to work a few more years before I retire (which I’m in no rush to do), or before I buy a house, or start a family. Now I have a whole set of insecurities around starting a family and raising kids, but losing 10% of my income isn’t one of them. I have several times more money than my parents did when they had me, so if I screwed up being a parent (knock on wood), it probably wouldn’t be because of my finances.
There are these big questions that everyone confronts growing up: what do we do about all the problems in the world? What’s my responsibility to fix them? Children imitate their role models. I hope to be a role model myself one day, and that my actions will help set the next generation on the right path as they confront these questions themselves. I’ve committed a significant part of my life to helping those who need it more, and I think it’s pretty obvious that’s the right thing to do, whatever your base principles.
I don’t know what it’d look like, passing this virtue down to my children. Maybe it looks like an allowance, with a fraction set aside they can contribute. Maybe it looks like volunteering and outreach. Whatever it is, I hope I can pass on the values that matter most to me: restraint from excessive luxury, gratitude for what you’ve been given, and empathy — even for those it doesn’t come easily towards.
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