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Raising a Generous Child

Project Zero's Family Dinner Project joins Giving Tuesday campaign to stir conversations about giving back
Giving Tuesday

As the holiday season approaches, even the most conscientious child may begin to march in time to the drumbeat of consumer culture. In response, The Family Dinner Project (FDP) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero is offering an antidote that turns mealtime into giving time — providing a teachable moment about the power of generosity.

The FDP is partnering with the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation on its Giving Tuesday campaign, which aims to bring people and organizations from around the world together for one shared day of generosity — the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (this year December 2, 2014). This communal celebration is meant to kick off a season of giving, just as Black Friday (and now Cyber Monday) kicks off a season of shopping.

The FDP is calling on families to take part in dinner-oriented acts of giving and spread the word through its #familydinnerforward campaign.

Examples of dinner-oriented acts of giving include:

  • cooking or buying a meal for a neighbor or someone in need
  • inviting someone over for family dinner
  • collecting and donating food to a pantry or a shelter

Families can share their stories and results on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtag #familydinnerforward.

"Parents have the power to shape their children's practices towards giving and volunteering," says Anne Fishel, cofounder of The Family Dinner Project and author of a forthcoming book on the subject. She cites a recent study that found that adolescents were much more likely to donate and to volunteer if they had parents who talked to them about giving and who themselves actually engaged in volunteering. "Your kids look to you to learn how to be caring members of society, so be sure to talk to them about your experiences as a volunteer, how you decide which organizations to donate to, and why this matters to you."

The FDP, founded in 2009, has long promoted the value of family mealtime — a topic that continues to trend on parenting blogs, on cooking blogs, and in the psyches of busy parents everywhere. Building on an extensive body research showing physical, emotional, social, and educational benefits of family dinners, the FDP has developed a plethora of useful tools to help families build a tradition of fun and frequent dinners and good tableside conversations about goals, hopes, and daily challenges.

Resources for #familydinnerforward on #GivingTuesday (12/2/14):

Inspiration on how to start talking with children about generosity:


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