Northern Beaches Mums Group
Northern Beaches Mums Group

Instilling a sense of giving in your child

We all want our children to be compassionate and have a sense of giving and sharing. Many children are intuitively generous. They share toys, they are moved to help a child in difficulty, and they understand many in the world have much less than them. These innate qualities vary in intensity and can be altered through life experience. However, for the most part, these qualities can be nurtured to a greater potential, to their enrichment, and to that of society.

Instilling a sense of giving, of generosity, and commitment in our children is an organic one, and a journey that I know intimately from all sides. I was born with a cataract in my right eye which affected my depth perception, and as a child, this made it difficult to do ordinary things, such as catching a ball, reading, and many other things. Eventually, I became completely blind in that eye.

In my 30s with three young children, I had emergency cataract surgery. There was a risk the surgery would damage my eye, and I was told, due to the severity of the cataract, surgery was unlikely to restore my sight. When the eye patch was removed the day after surgery, I was stunned to see out of my right eye for the first time. However, this was done so late in my life, my brain does not register that the sight in my right eye works, so my vision is still a daily challenge.

I had long been aware of CBM Australia and their Miracles Day. It’s a day when Australians are encouraged to donate ‘a miracle’ – just $33 for cataract surgery for people in poorer countries. I had donated each year, having a personal understanding of the impact of limited sight. I’ve always encouraged my children to allocate a portion of their pocket money to give to those in need. We would listen to the Miracles Day radio broadcast on the way to school and talk about the miracle of restoring sight. My children would get excited about pooling their pocket money to raise $33 to restore another child’s sight. I believe it gave them a sense of pride and contribution to the greater good that was very tangible to them.

Since joining CBM five years ago, I have witnessed children having cataract surgery in many countries, including Nepal, the Philippines, and Vietnam. It’s extraordinary to be there the moment a child sees for the first time. I’ll never forget watching the surgery of a young girl in the Philippines, 13-year-old Joanna, in 2017. Due to an unknown condition, she had developed cataracts and could no longer attend school, in the hopes of improving her life and becoming a businessperson. She could no longer dance, nor see the faces of her family. Her successful surgery had an invaluable impact on her life. Joanna has graduated from high school, helped her family set up a business, and realised her dreams. That is what $33 can do.

My children have grown up knowing these stories. My 15-year-old has just started his first part-time job at McDonalds. His first pay was $35. Him flipping burgers for a few hours was enough to restore a child’s sight and change their life forever. He gets it.

To inspire children from a young age, I would encourage parents to consider:

  • Always being open to talking about the principle of giving and why
  • Show them examples of where you donate or support a cause and why
  • Encourage them to put away a small portion of pocket money or earnings for charity with a spend/save/give jar system
  • Update them as to where their donations go, and the impact it has
  • Help them find the causes they resonate with and have empathy
  • Trust in their natural compassion

Joining CBM and managing their Miracles Day was and remains such a privilege. Every day gives me a reason to be inspired by the work I do. Through my experiences and long-term approach with my children, ad invaluable time with CBM, I believe inspiring children to give should be simple and organic, and not prescriptive. Leading by example, having age-appropriate conversations, and demonstrating the impact of their gift opens their world and inspires their compassion and generosity.

Mariska Meldrum is Campaign Manager for CBM’s Miracles Day, which this year is aiming to give 52,000 people in poorer countries sight-saving, life-changing cataract surgery. Miracles Day is on 18 August. If you would like to donate, please visit