By Erik Fisher, PhD, AKA Dr E …
We teach our kids to give gifts to other family members, and they often learn that you do that because that is what you are supposed to do, but these gifts are often given in exchange of gifts given to them. Let's talk about giving selflessly to people in need and teaching your child the same.
Every year for the past seven or eight years, my wife and I have picked up a Christmas wish list for children who are in foster care from the local Department of Children and Family Services. Through my career, I have worked with many children who have been in foster care, and see how much love these kids need. Since my daughter was born, we have continued that, and as she has gotten older, we have talked with her about helping a little girl or boy have a merrier Christmas that does not live with their family. We talk about our good fortune and that we feel blessed for what we have and we want to spread that around. We also talk about some of the challenges that people have, and it is important to help others.
Last year, when we talked with my daughter about helping a little girl out with Christmas who did not live with her own family, she asked if the girl we were providing Christmas gifts for could live with us. My wife and I both looked at each other with that "Wow" look, and while we knew she did not fully understand what that would mean, we felt proud of her willingness to open her heart to someone in need. I talked to her about what it means to live with a foster family and that she was safe and taken care of with the foster family. We wanted to help her to have a happier Christmas and get her some things that she needed.
We take my daughter out to shop for the foster children and also have her help wrap the presents. We want her to feel included in this process and want her truly feel the Spirit of Santa in her heart. As she grows older, we will have her continue to become more involved. I will never demand that my daughter gives to others at Christmas or on any occasion. I do hope that she sees the example that we have set and will follow that example and take it even further in her own life.
If you don't do this already, I would encourage you to start a new holiday tradition this year or next. I would also encourage you to see that many kids in foster care need love every day. There are plenty of ways that you can help. I encourage you to contact your local foster care organizations to see how you can make a difference not only your child’s life, but in the lives of others
About the author:
, PhD, aka Dr. E…, is a licensed psychologist and author who has been featured on NBC, CBS, FOX and CNN. Visit him at
to learn more about his books "The Art of Empowered Parenting" and "The Art of Managing Everyday Conflict" or to check out his blog. Permission Granted for use on Dr.Laura.com.