Last night Jundo invited members of Treeleaf to think about and perhaps start a new discussion thread on how to raise our kids to be more altruistic, especially during special times such as Christmas, birthdays etc. when it is “all about me”.
It is interesting that Jundo brought this up; I had just had a conversation with my Daughter who was having the same problems with her girls. So many gifts were coming in the mail from grandparents, uncles and aunts that her kids were going nuts just waiting on what would come each day for them. She asked me how did we raise her and her brother so they never felt a great need for things, were content and busy with their lives and both having chose careers of service. We kicked things around, like their being raised in National Parks, a long way from shopping malls, that it was before the internet and the proliferation of electronic toys, computers, games etc. But still that was not it.
We finally came on the idea that it was not enough to just tell kids that they were lucky and that they should “give” toys to other less fortunate kids. Dropping the toys off at collection points for “Toys for Tots” is too removed for young children to grasps the concept of giving. What is necessary is to engage the kids in activity that reflects the Buddhist practice of Samu. Engage the children in the giving process where they see and meet the children they are giving the gifts to. Take them to a community center, orphanage, to make the giving real, little hands to little hands.
When I hung up, my daughter was excited. So will have to write an addition to this post some time after the holidays to let you all know if the idea worked.
I think in some ways we did this for our kids. Not intentionally, but by example. They experienced injured visitors coming to our house in the middle of the night for first aid or other assistance, they were there when my wife provided food and water for Mexican nationals coming out of the desert; through out their life they experienced first hand being engaged with people and families in need.
So following the practice of Samu that includes the whole family seems to be part of a solution to “all about me” in this age of computers, electronics and instant gratification.
Peace for this New Year.