Gift buying highlights differences in my kids’ generosity

5631e6e110ecb096bb2afa1d0c544ae0Last week, Lexie and I headed to the store to buy her brother a birthday present. She already knew what she wanted to get him – Stormfly, a stuffed dragon for How To Train Your Dragon 2. (She bought him a stuffed Toothless for Christmas.)

However, when we got to the store, they didn’t have what she wanted. I offered to order it online for her, but since we were at the store, she decided she would pick out something else. The problem was there were so many things…that she wanted for herself.

So suddenly, it went from her wanting to spend about $10 on a gift for her brother to spending less on him, so she could buy herself something too. You see this gift was coming out of her allowance, and she only had $13.

I insisted that she pick out something for Jase first. This caused a little whining as she wanted to look at all the enticing things for her. Finally, she picked out a $6 Nerf-type gun for him. That meant she didn’t have much for herself, but she did find a small doll and puppy set. She was happy.

But as we left, I reflected on how different it would have been if Jase was the one doing the purchasing. If he was buying her something, money would not be an option. And even if he wanted to buy himself something, it would not come before buying her a gift. With Jase, it is all about making the other person happy. He has always put her first. In Kindergarten, he would pick a prize from the treasure chest for his sister rather than himself. He would make sure to share his cupcake or donut from a class birthday.

But would Lexie do any of these things? Most likely not. Often her thoughts are on what she wants. That isn’t to say she won’t share, or that she doesn’t choose things to make her brother or others happy. (She gave our neighbor one of her stuffed animals when the neighbor moved away.) But most often it is just she seems to come first.

I guess the best lesson is to set an example, and we do every year with the Angel Tree from our school and other clothing or food drives. We talk about people having less than us, and how much they need what we can spare.

But I don’t want it always to be about mom and dad spending their money. We began giving our kids an allowance to teach them money management. I don’t want to force her to give part of it away. I would like it to come from the heart. I want her to realize that giving to others makes not only them happy but can make her happy too.

***Jase’s birthday was this weekend. He got some money for his birthday. When we went to spend it he spent a third of it on his sister. He bought her Legos. Such a sweet boy!


2 thoughts on “Gift buying highlights differences in my kids’ generosity

  1. sjhigbee says:

    One of the joys of parenting – and grandparenting – is watching your children continually develop as individuals. Many of their behaviour comes and goes in phases – but right from the start there are discernible differences. It is always fascinating…

  2. shegyes says:

    My oldest seems like Lexie and my youngest like Jase. Both are still in that stage where they think of themselves first, but if you remind the youngest she’s looking for something for her sister and not for herself, she instantly stops looking for herself until her mission is accomplished. The older of the two requires a little more persuasion.

    It’s interesting to note how they are developing as individuals despite being raised the same way and hardly ever separated.

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