Can You Give The Gift of Empathy To Your GRANDchildren?
By Sue Ellen Cooper
For us grown-ups holiday celebrations can be quite complex, with extra cooking, parties, home-decorating, maybe even car-decorating (think of antlers and big red noses on SUVs). Of course there is also that time-consuming, brain-wracking activity known as shopping. When you are a grandparent, shopping rises to a whole new level of importance. What grandparent doesn’t want to be the one to give their precious grandchildren the special gift that they will never forget? I’ll confess that I have fallen prey to this challenge myself.
The best way to determine what gift a child is coveting is to come right out and ask them, “What do you want for Christmas?” But beware! Their answer may not solve your problem at all; in fact it may cause you quite a bit of grief. I remember one particular incident with my son, who was then six years old. I asked him that very question and he named a toy that was overwhelmingly popular that year. Unfortunately, it was So popular that it was sold out absolutely everywhere. I gave him something else. (I don’t remember what that was, and my now forty-six-year-old son certainly doesn’t either.) My point: do not ask the question if you’re not certain you can deliver. (And don’t wrap your own ego up with your gift.)
I have a suggestion that could be useful for all but the youngest children. Begin by buying them something age-appropriate and reasonable in price. If your grandchildren are like so many other contemporary kids, they already have everything they need – and most of the things they want on top of those.
Give them a sense of empathy for children who are much less fortunate than they – not by lecturing, but by engaging them in shopping for and packing gifts for children far less fortunate (Franklin Graham’s Operation Shoebox is only one of many options). Contact a local children’s shelter and get a list of what the children there could use, then take your grandchildren shopping and let them pick out appropriate gifts. Or let them pick out a toy for the Marines’ holiday “Toys for Tots” drive, take it to the collection site and have them deposit it themselves. Gently help them appreciate what they have and enable them to experience the satisfaction that comes with generosity.
Try this! Your grandchildren will experience the joy in giving – and an accompanying attitude of gratitude will be seeded in their hearts. This is a gift that they will truly be able to use for the rest of their lives – and they’ll remember it!
About the Author – Sue Ellen Cooper
Red Hat Society Founder
Sue Ellen Cooper is the founder of the Red Hat Society, the world’s premier social networking community for women. Begun in 1998, the Red Hat Society has roughly 20,000 chapters in all 50 states in the U.S. and more than 30 foreign countries.
This grassroots social phenomenon encourages women to connect socially, emotionally and to support each other in the pursuit of vital, active living through middle age and beyond. The sisterhood hosts international and regional conventions and continues to grow and evolve. Soon after the first small group of Red Hatters began venturing out in public, unsought publicity prompted hundreds, then thousands, of women to ask how they too could join. By the end of 2000, what has been referred to as “the second women’s movement” was growing like wildfire. The Red Hat Society chooses to emphasize those things that unite women–crossing boundaries of race, religion and even age–in the process.