Senior Philanthropic Advisor, Kristin Nelson, experimented with her family recently. As part of a community read-along, her family followed the advice and recommendations of New York Times columnist Ron Lieber, in The Opposite of Spoiled in pursuit of raising her daughter, Poppy, as a generous and thoughtful individual.
Part Three: Giving
In The Opposite of Spoiled, Mr. Lieber suggests that for younger children, making contributions in person may have a powerful and positive impact on the children…and adults.
As such, our first stop on the Giving Train was a visit to COTS’ Mary Isaak Center. Vice President for Development Sarah Quinto (pictured above with Poppy and one of the owl banks), generously met Poppy to accept the gift. Together, they picked up dropped nickels and talked about why it is important to give money to COTS. The answer of course, is that “everyone needs a place to live”.
Other COTS staff spoke with Poppy, making a lasting impression on her about the act of giving and recognition. She was welcomed, engaged and thanked. Sure, she was shy in the moment, but she didn’t stop talking about the experience, the whole car ride home (and beyond).
Several weeks later, our family made a short trip to Monterey Bay Aquarium. We all hoped to see the new wild baby otter, a California sheephead and the family favorite mola mola. As parents we also hoped that Poppy would enjoy her second face-to-face donation which we knew would be different from her first.
Poppy shyly presented her plastic bag of small bills and change to the membership services desk on a very busy day at the Aquarium. The seasoned staff (pictured here) also welcomed her warmly and made her feel that she did something special through her gift.
Last week we received a package in the mail from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. In the package was an adorable stuffed otter and a handwritten note thanking Poppy for her small gift. Aside from being smart development work, this note and stuffie (later christened “Puffy”) beautifully and positively reinforced the joys of giving. Talk about incentives to giving! Poppy was hooked.
Our next challenge will be helping Poppy understand this incentive system so she can make positive decisions on her own without the manipulation of Puffy the adorable otter (Mr. Leiber refers to this as “giving without benefits”). It will happen within a few years, but right now Puffy is enjoying the prime cuddling real estate every evening and Poppy is asking when the next trip to Monterey will be.
Part Four: Missteps and Victories
According to Mr. Leiber, embracing philanthropy is one just part of raising generous, thoughtful children. My amazing spouse and I are figuring this parenting thing out as we go along, and sometimes we even get it right (perhaps that is a nod to our own wonderful parents and perhaps a bit of dumb luck). That doesn’t happen all the time, though. We realize half way through something that we aren’t consistent, didn’t ask the right question and likely responded in a way that that may cause Poppy to consider therapy as an adult.
Based on Mr. Lieber’s advice in The Opposite of Spoiled, we have walked away with a few lessons learned a few reasons to take a deep exhale while saying “phew!” under our breaths.
Missteps (Room For Growth)
Victories (Ending on a High Note…)
Great Ideas To Ponder and Incorporate
We aren’t really going to end on a high note. For our family, and many like ours, this is just the beginning of navigating these conversations and interactions with money and philanthropy.
Community Foundation Sonoma County | 120 Stony Point Road | Suite 220 | Santa Rosa CA 95401 | P: 707.579.4073 | Tax ID# 68-0003212
©2017 Community Foundation Sonoma County. All Rights Reserved.