I do believe much of our personal views in this area may have something to do with the values that were instilled in us as children. I grew up being taught that if I was to borrow something from someone, I should return it in the same (if not better) condition as I got it. Naturally, I grew to expect the same from others if I was to lend something out. After a few disappointments, I just became reluctant to lend anything out – or even borrow, as I was paranoid something might happen to the item.
My husband on the other hand was instilled with the thought that if you lend something out, be ready to let it go and never see it again. So, if things were returned (and even better, if they were in pristine condition), it was a bonus!
I see pros to both approaches. If something doesn’t belong to us, we need to care for it, but on the flip – if something belongs to us, we need to put it in perspective and be ready to let it go – because it never really belonged to us in the first place.(The saying "You can't take it with you" comes to mind).
I watch my children with interest. I have 1 who has a very difficult time letting go of things and another who would give the shirt off his back if asked. The third is just an opportunist who takes treasures from all of us and tucks them away in the back of her closet – which she has dubbed her secret laboratory. We’re still working on that one.
I want my kids to be able to witness generosity and hopefully walk away later in life with hearts that are willing to share what they have. Their world is so sheltered (I’m not begrudging this), but when I compare to what kids their age may live through in other parts of the world, I know we are blessed with so much. Our kid’s every need is met (even a number of wants).
As I’ve been working at learning more about the DRC, I’ve been trying to communicate this to my kids. Not in any sense filling them in about the horrors kids their age face, my kids still believe in Santa Claus, I will not mess with their innocence. But I don’t believe it is too early to tell them that there are people fighting over stuff and many families are being hurt by this. My kids understand this. They know this is happening way far away from them, but they know kids their age are hurting.This makes them sad.
When I married my husband, I went through a massive learning curve in the department of generosity. I still practice taking huge care of anything that doesn’t belong to me (and I’m working on that with my kids too), but my posture of letting go has changed. We have definitely found ourselves “out” an item or 2 along the way, but letting go to help when someone has a particular need for something feels pretty fantastic.