Posted: May 23, 2012 9:24 AM
"Kids these days!" -- a phrase we hear grumbled far too often. And it isn't said in admiration, such as "Kids these days... they certainly are polite," but it should be. It could be! So many parents have no intention of contributing to a society of kids set on demanding "their way."

You don't have to look far to see kids spoiled by excess.

I can't claim that my children want for much. They have a roof over their heads, food on their tables, clothes on their little bodies, a good education, the love of two parents and they have never known what it is like to wonder if there will be presents at the holidays. And it is because of this that I am determined to raise two small people who appreciate what they have and find ways to help others.

One of my primary responsibilities as a parent is to teach my children to give back. This is best done by example. Children are better at doing what you do, than doing what you say.

Say what you mean

In our house, language is important. The way we speak to each other shows respect and gratitude -- both qualities that are little ways of "giving back." Before my children can understand what it means to "give," they must first understand what they have and how to be thankful for it. "Please" and "thank you" are small words with a big meaning.

Seek and give

If you have every been to a child's birthday party and seen them open presents, you likely know they have too much. My small people now know they do, in fact, have too much, because they don't have the time to play with all of it. So, twice a year, we go through their toys and give away the items that don't get playtime -- certainly there is another child who will light up at the sight of that toy.

Show me the money

Sit down and talk to your kids about the charities and organizations that are important to your family. It is impossible to help everyone -- from diabetes to breast cancer to MS to child hunger. But as a family, you can determine where your heart is and where your money should go. From there, your kids can decide if they want to do a lemonade stand, sell a toy on eBay or donate a portion of their allowance once a month. But it is a great way to help them to understand saving and giving.

And all of these are great ways to start the conversation about giving.

More about your family

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