Teaching Children Charity
After the success of the first two books in their “Teaching Children” series (Teaching Your Children Joy and Teaching Your Children Responsibility) the Eyres knew there had to be at least one more book in the series, this one aimed at the parents of adolescent age kids (Joy aimed at preschoolers and Responsibility at elementary age). As they asked the parents of teens what their biggest challenge was, Richard and Linda concluded that adolescent kids essentially had a problem with “windows and mirrors.” Instead of being able to see through windows and notice the feelings and needs of others, they tended to be always looking into mirrors–thinking about themselves, and wondering what others were thinking of them. This created a self-focus that undermined their happiness and shut out their parents. What parents most wanted to teach their teens was empathy–sensitivity, charity.
Since we as adults have such a hard time with charity, we sometimes assume that it is too big a principle for children to learn. But as it turns out, kids can sometimes be better at empathy and charity than we are! The Eyres analyzed the attitudes and paradigms of a wide cross-section of adolescents and structured the book around the kind of awareness and other-centeredness that would get kids outside of themselves and help them to notice more and care more about others, including their siblings and their parents. The result was the book Teaching Children Charity.
This week’s Eyres on the Road episode is dedicated to this notion of teaching children charity and they are broadcasting from Gilbert, Arizona. where they are joined by their daughter Shawni Pothier of the popular blog 71toes.com. Together they discuss how the Christmas season can be the perfect time to help children think about the concept of charity. The big question is how to mix the “getting” of Santa and stockings with the “giving” of Christ and of charity. The Eyres have some ideas, such as separating the two and totally devoting Christmas Eve to the giving of gifts to each other, with all the focus on the giver, and resigning the getting part to Christmas morning.
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