Charity & Parental Modeling

I have taken on a new personal project this past week. I decided to participate in the The Ride to Conquer Cancer, a 200 kilometer or 124 mile bicycle ride from Vancouver to Seattle. The event occurs every June for the purpose of raising money for Cancer treatment and research. The event attracts more than a thousand participants every year and is a stark reminder of just how many people are effected by this disease.

Now you might be asking yourself,  “Ya so… what does this have to do with parenting?”

Well, although my main reason(s) for undertaking this cause was not to “teach” my kids anything about being charitable but it has become an opportunity to do just that.

Daily, we are faced with opportunities to be charitable. There are so many good causes out there which deserve our attention and financial support. There are even opportunities right next door, shovelling the walks or mowing the lawn for the old couple next door or perhaps sharing some expertise by coaching a local team, we have plenty of opportunities to help others.

What I have found however, is that being charitable has become more of an act of giving rather than the act of doing. We are all so busy in our fast paced lives that we hardly have time to do things for ourselves, never mind finding the time to do something for others. The result is that, in order to be charitable, we are reduced to the passive act of donating money rather than actively doing something for an individual, group or organization.

What my participation in the Ride to Conquer Cancer is showing my kids, is that to make a difference and contribute to this charity, I have to  give more than just money. I have to invest time and effort so that I am physically ready to do the ride but I also have to actively raise money on behalf of the BC Cancer Foundation. In doing so, I am making a more significant impression on my children then what simply handing over $100 to this charity could possibly do.

There are so many subtle things we do as parents that shape our children and the adults they will become. Most of it we do not think about but there are occasions when we have the opportunity to make a significant and positive mark on our children’s lives. I feel that I have inadvertently stumbled onto just such an opportunity in the Ride to Conquer Cancer.

As my children watch me train for the ride and raise money for this worthy cause, I would hope they will come to understand that charity is more than just giving money. Charity is about participating in a cause and making a difference by doing. It is a lesson I can continue to teach in the years to come.

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