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Modern Parenthood

Piggy bank versus tzedakah box: Learning to save – and give

A tantrum over getting a desired toy turns into an opportunity to teach a 4-year-old about charity, helping him to decide whether to put his change in the piggy bank or the tzedakah box.

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At the pet store, I set the expectations clearly before we walked in, telling him we were there to buy necessities for Squirty.

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Guest blogger

Linda K. Wertheimer, The Boston Globe’s former education editor, writes about religion, education, and family for various publications and blogs at Jewish Muse, A Writer's Blog on Faith and Family. She is a late bloomer:  In her early 40s, she celebrated her adult bat mitzvah, married, and had a son – in that order.

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In the car, as we left the pet store, Simon was persistent. He stopped fussing and tried the polite approach. “Please, can I have a super hero toy? Please, please, Mom,” he said.

I thought of a compromise. “Well, maybe we can count up the money in your piggy bank and see if you have enough for a toy,” I said.

This morning, after breakfast, Simon surprised me by raising the subject again. “Can we count up my money and go to a toy store today?” he asked.

Today is one of the three days he goes to his day-care. “We can count it, but we’ll have to go after school,” I said.

I taught him to sort his money into piles of quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies. He tired after sorting half of it. We counted what he had sorted.

“$8.55,” I said. “That’s more than enough to get something. Should we give some of the rest to people who cannot afford to buy toys or food?”

He nodded and went downstairs and got his tzedakah box. Sitting on his bed again, he put several handfuls of change in it.

“Mom, where does money come from?” he asked.

“Well, it doesn’t grow on trees. Where do you think it comes from?”

“The bank,” he said.

“Not exactly. People have to work to get money. That’s why Mommy and Daddy work. That’s how we can buy you food and toys,” I said.

“Mom, if we didn’t have any money would other people use their money to give us food?” he asked.

“I think so,” I said.

“Mom, when can we go to buy more food for people who don’t have it?” he asked.

“Soon,” I said. “First, we have to count up the money in your tzedakah box, then go to the store to buy the food for them.”

He returned the tzedakah box downstairs and put his piggy bank on his dresser. Then, he stood on his stool and peered at Squirty, who huddled in a corner of the aquarium.

“I want him to move into one of his new shells,” Simon said.

“He will,” I said, “when he is ready.”

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Linda Wertheimer blogs at Jewish Muse.

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