This post is a result of a discussion about destructiveness. I made the statement that young children do not by and large understand the value of property. This statement was challenged, so I’ve been reevaluating what I think.
I still stand by my statement, with a qualifier that perhaps my own children uniquely do not understand the value of property. But it seems to me that a child’s understanding of the value of things is a result both of a parents modeling, and a result of direct teaching.
We show children what we value by how much time we spend with certain “things,” how we take care of property, and how we respond when our belongings are damaged or lost. There’s a balance to be achieved: wise stewardship without greed, having a giving heart without giving pearls to pigs.
Here are the questions I’ve been thinking of. Questions must suffice, as I have a crying baby, two hungry children, and company coming for music class in two hours. Perhaps others will add to the discussion.
- When do I give?
- How do I decide where to give?
- Do I involve my children in giving?
- Do I express appreciation (though thank-you notes) when others give to me?
- Do I spend enough time interacting with people, with the local body of believers, or do I retreat into my own world whenever possible?
- What do I do and say when somebody damages something I own?
- What do I do and say when my children damage their own property?
- What do I do and say when my children damage my property, or the property of others?
- How should my responses change as a child gets older?