By Robyn Schein
Over the holidays, I had a chance to catch up on the list of podcasts I’ve been meaning to listen to, and tackle some of the books on my nightstand. I was completely taken by the 92Y Talks interview with Adam Grant and Allison Sweet Grant with Susan Cain. I have become a bit of a “fan girl” of the Grants as they have been writing more frequently on the topics of generosity and raising kids with kindness. This is a topic that we at 21/64 have been thinking about a lot through the development of our Growing Goodness tool and as we’ve been sharing the content with clients. The launching pad of this particular podcast conversation is the Grant’s new children’s book “The Gift Inside the Box,” but the dialogue expanded significantly, and I wanted to share a few of my own take-aways.
- Teach by modeling. Preaching and lecturing our values rarely works, rather we model our values through our daily lives. The Grants reminded me to think about how we fill in the gaps of those observations. Our children and grandchildren don’t witness a significant portion of our days while we work or participate in our communities. We need to share the stories of what we do during those hours to help others. This includes the anecdotes of mentoring others or attending a fundraiser to support a nonprofit organization. We also shouldn’t miss the importance of sharing the times when we tried to help and it didn’t work, or we regret that we didn’t do more.
- Who did you help? I frequently use the same questions that the Grants recommend for dinner conversation, “Who did you help today?” and “Who helped you today?” They added the second question to their family’s routine to help their kids recognize who the kind and caring people are in their lives. They wanted their children to take notice of who was modeling those values. I think this question also normalizes the fact that we all need help at some time.
- Values Conversation. The Grants had a values conversation with their kids and went through a process to identify their family values. Just as we encourage our clients, the Grant family’s list of values hangs in their home and they use it for decisions such as family vacations or weekend activities. They also added that they use their values when dealing with behavior. For example, “does speaking to your sister like that reflect our value of kindness?” I will be adding this to my parenting toolkit and will be sending the Grants their own deck of our Motivational Values Cards.
What has stayed with me the most from the podcast was the question of ‘what is the different between kindness and generosity?’ These words are often used interchangeably, but I think they are distinct. I posed this question to my own kids. My kids felt strongly that generosity is an action and kindness is a feeling, but they also generated a list of more questions. Can you be generous without being kind, or show kindness without showing generosity? You can be overly generous, but can you be overly kind?
What do you think?