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Dads Are Saying:

Be Generous

What is one of the things that dads are usually worried about? Finances – right? Paying the bills, planning for the future, preparing for the unexpected and providing financial security for the family. That’s why dad is the one always complaining about the lights being left on around the house! No one seems to understand how hard dad works to chase that last dollar! When kids want something, dad looks at it in financial terms. He sees it in comparison to what else those funds could purchase. If a child wants a toy that costs $20, Dad knows what percentage of a family meal a toy that is!

But let’s look at generosity from the perspective of a child.

Dad, your love for you kid(s) is not in question here. That’s assumed, so let’s remove that from the conversation. Let’s assume no other dad loves their kid(s) more than you do! But how is that love communicated to them?

Sure, you SAY you love them when you see them off to school, give them a hug, or tuck them in at night – but the reality is, children need tangible expressions of love. A kid thinks, “I hear you say you love me, but I need to see it.”

Bottom line, gifts show kids you love them.  Period.

Some parents want to limit gift giving to birthdays, holidays and special events so they “stash” gifts for those special times – and rightly so, those times should be special! But at the same time, gifts are expected at those times, so the impact is actually lessened. It’s like giving your wife flowers on Valentine’s Day. She expects it, so the romantic point value is about 1. Flowers on an average day is about 47 and might lead somewhere! It’s the same with children. Almost dying of a heart attack and having a stent put in made me realize I don’t want to die with a bunch of toys in the closet that I was going to give my son – I want to see the look on his face when I give them to him. Today is the day I want to bless him. I also realized, I am blessing myself all year around. New clothes, new tech gadgets, new magazines and books – things that I enjoy, why should he have to always wait until some special date on the calendar?

The Bible says:

Do to others as you would have them do to you.
– Luke 6:31

While my son can’t “do to me” when it comes to gift giving (he has no money) – the principle is that I can to do to him “as I do unto myself!” I buy myself whatever I want (assuming I can afford it.) He lacks that ability. So my child is at my mercy when it comes to his desires. He can only come and ask me. I must do unto him, as I would like him to do, if I was at HIS mercy for the things that I want! What a thought!

Generosity always pays back richly! When we are generous, we show love. It is a tangible expression of love to our children. When we withhold, we often miss an opportunity to show love.

One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
– Proverbs 11:24

The Bible often speaks of the benefits of generosity. The joy we see on our child’s face when we give a gift is delightful to behold. Obviously, the gift needs to be a “gift” and not an expectation. That means sometimes saying “no” if the child asks with a bad attitude or with a presumption of receiving. But a good father can train his child to ask respectfully and to accept a “no” respectfully, and can also learn to sneak those purchases to give later as a reward for good behavior as a teaching point. However, a skilled father can also learn to give before the child even asks – that is what our Heavenly Father does for us!

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
– Matthew 7:11; Luke 11:13

See, God expects us to give good gifts to our children! He used this twice in the Gospels as an illustration of how He too loves to give us gifts when we ask him. Gift giving is one of the strongest love languages of children – and children are not concerned with the price tag (or the brand name) but only that it came from you, and that you cared enough to give it. My son will surprise me by telling me for every toy who gave it to him and when, even years after the gift was given, and even for the most apparently insignificant toy! He knows who loves him by the gifts they have given him. Words mean a lot to us, but children need those words backed up with something in their hands. In child development lingo, we call that being “concrete relational.” Children are not capable of abstract conceptional thinking. If they can’t touch it – it isn’t real. “Love” is an abstract concept. You need to bring love into the real world so they can touch it. Gifts can be touched!

Perhaps that is why God described every gift we get as coming from our Heavenly Father:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
– James 1:17

When our children look back our their childhood – we want them to remember a father who paid the bills and provided a home and financial security, yes. But we also want them to remember a dad that never was so preoccupied with the burdens of money that there wasn’t enough for the simple joys of childhood. You always have enough money to get your kid a candy bar or a milk shake or that plastic Godzilla at Costco that he has his eye on. And no, he doesn’t have to wait till Christmas. It’s too far away.

Today is the day to show your kid you love them with a gift.

Be known to your children as a generous dad. That is the legacy you want to have. And the harder it is, the more it will mean to them in the years ahead.

Facebook comments:

3 Responses to “Be Generous”

  1. I must say at the start of reading this I thought you were about to mention my name as that dad you were describing who is always talking about turning lights off, not running the water for 20 minutes before you get in the shower, not leaving the refrigerator door open and trying to cool the Eskimos from KC, MO., because that is me.

    What I like though is that you didn’t stop there, nor do I. I agree and appreciate you taking this post toward seeing generosity through the eyes of kids, or my wife even. Yes, it is true they need and appreciate seeing it through tangible ways.

    Thanks for the reminder and encouragement with keeping the generosity going.

  2. Steve Bourque says:

    True. I think the thoughts about “I can get whatever I want, but my child is at my mercy” is important to hold on to. We are also children dependent on God for his good gifts. Our kids ask us freely unless we continually reject their requests. God is a God of surprises with all kinds of good gifts, but our kids will have difficulty learning that if we as dads fail to surprise them with our own good and tangible gifts. Of course, there is a caution for when our children value the gift more than the relationship, but that’s another discussion. Thanks for the post!

  3. Jennifer Smith says:

    I thought of this post when I spotted a quote on Twitter today:

    “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” – Amy Carmichael

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