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Four Conversations You Should Have with Your Teen

Most of us expect our children to complete some household chores – cleaning their bedroom, unloading the dishwasher, taking out the trash. We give them chores not because we want a clean house (ok, well, that’s part of the reason) but because we are teaching them to become responsible, self-sufficient adults. The same principle applies to teaching our children to give. We’re not including our children in our family’s philanthropic activities simply to make them aware that we make charitable donations. We include them because we hope to give them the values and tools they’ll need to become adults who care about making a difference in their world.

As our children grow and mature, our activities and conversations about philanthropy should too. Volunteering at an animal shelter or raising funds for a children’s hospital cancer program are great ways to introduce a child to charity when they are small, but once they become teenagers, we should help them explore the concept of philanthropy. We can do this by having thoughtful conversations with them. Here are four thought-provoking questions that can help you and your teen begin the process:

  1. How do I choose an organization to support? Unfortunately, we’ve all heard stories about disreputable nonprofits. Talk with your teenager about this reality and then discuss what makes a nonprofit a good recipient for financial support.
  2. Why should I give regularly? Whether it’s time or money, most of us give to multiple organizations multiple times a year. Ask your kids to consider why this is important – for the person who gives and the organization that receives the gift.
  3. How can my small contribution change anything when the problem is so big? For teenagers inundated with information, some causes or issues might seem overwhelming or impossible to fix.  This question provides a great opportunity to discuss the powers of cooperation and collaboration to affect change.
  4. What if I don’t make a lot of money? How can I afford to give? Here’s a great chance to talk about budgeting, priorities, and self-control – all fantastic lessons for your teen.
This is a great opportunity to help your children explore the concept of giving. Enjoy the conversation!
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