Do you know which causes your grandchildren care about?
BY KERRY BRYNE
My mother, affectionately known as Nana Lulu, recently sent a parcel to her grandson. When it arrived, I was convinced something had broken inside, as when he shook it, it sounded as if something had shattered. Turned out she had poured all her loose change into the parcel (fun idea for your next parcel!).
Nana Lulu knows that he loves finding change and putting it in his wallet, but this time he announced he was going to give it to charity.
Now, he’s no saint. He took out the dollar coins first, but the nickels and dimes still added up and this led to a neat conversation about the different causes he cares about and might want to support.
Was it going to be an animal shelter, an indigenous charity, or an organization that helps others after a disaster? He is still deciding, and we are giving him time to think it all through. He’s seven so it feels like decisions are either instant or weeks in the making.
As we were chatting about giving and the reasons to support a charity, it made me think about all of you.
Long-distance grandparents often end up sending money so their grandchildren can pick out their own gifts. Whether it’s for a birthday or another celebration.
You can amplify the meaning of your money gift by adding in an extra 10 dollars, with a request your grandchildren use it to donate to a cause they care most about.
You can follow this up with a story about an organization or cause you care about and why you think giving can provide a sense of purpose and how it’s important to care about the world beyond our own families.
This can become a gift-giving tradition – and one they will always remember you for as they grow up. It’s a surefire way to contribute to nurturing kindness and generosity in your grandchildren from a distance.
If you don’t have a gift-giving event coming up soon, try asking your grandchildren about charity to get them talking about the causes they care about. For instance:
- If you had 100 dollars, would you give it to a place that helps older people or the environment?
- If you had the chance to spend the day volunteering somewhere instead of going to school, would you go to a food bank or an animal shelter?
Of course, you can fill in the blanks differently for these questions but it’s the either-or formatting that makes it a little more engaging for your grandchildren to answer.
And finally, planning to do something together when you are in person is another way to get kids excited or interested in philanthropy. For example, visiting a local shelter to drop off a donation or making homemade cards for a local nursing home are ways to spend time together and create moments you can reminisce about later.
But keep in mind, you can do things together from a distance as well, such as agreeing to clean up litter in your local parks on the same day or writing happy notes for neighbors together on a video chat. Try sending markers, heart stickers or stamps, and colored paper in advance to make it more fun.
The possibilities to find out what your grandchild cares about – and to bond over shared interests – are endless.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kerry Byrne, Ph.D. is a care and connections research scientist focused on helping grandparents nurture strong bonds with their grandchildren from a distance. For more ideas about how to stay connected to your grandchildren, you can sign-up for her weekly ideas and inspirations on her website: https://thelongdistancegrandparent.com/