Gena Lee Nolin’s Blog: Teaching Our Kids To Give Back

Mom-of-four Gena Lee Nolin is inviting Celebrity Baby Scoop readers along as she shares her life experiences – and asks for advice – as she juggles her busy life with husband Cale Hulse and their four children: Spencer, 16, Caia, 11, Hudson, 6, and Stella, 4.

In her latest guest blog, Gena talks about the importance of teaching our kids to give back to the community. The former Baywatch star, 41, admits her family struggled to make ends meet when she was a kid. And she’s sure to teach her own children the importance of a strong work ethic and giving back to others less fortunate. Continue reading her words of wisdom, and share your thoughts, questions, and advice in the comments.

Teaching our Children to Give Back to the Community

It’s more important than ever to teach our children how to give back to the community in one way or another. The homeless rate is at an all-time high, even with an economy that’s slowly on the rise. Sadly, some haven’t recovered, leaving them on the streets or in shelters.

When I’m traveling to bigger cities, I see this more than ever and it’s devastating. What can I do to help? It starts by teaching the next generation how to respect and appreciate what we’ve got and that it takes a lot of work to sustain even a simple way of life.

Growing up we didn’t have much at all, so I understand fully what it means to go without. My parents worked hard to provide, and there were many holidays when people helped us out with food — and even one year giving us a Christmas tree.

My job as a mother is to teach my children how to give with compassion — the way I had been taught early in life. It’s so easy to be judgmental — easy to say, ‘Ewww that person is crazy, dirty or not like us.’ Who are we to judge and really, who are we, if we’re coming from a place of entitlement? What’s that old saying, ‘Until you’ve walked in someone else’s shoes, zip it, keep a lid on it or if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.’ Those are some of my mom’s favorites!

Our children watch what we do, how we react after having encounters with others, even if we’re mumbling judgements under our breath. Kids don’t miss a beat and react to what they see. It’s imperative to look at how we act toward others.

Entitlement is much different than confidence — and that I encourage in our home. Without a healthy, confidant mind, the body can’t follow successfully.

My kids will be the first to say at the park, ‘Mom we we need to buy that person a meal or give them our sweatshirt, he’s cold.’ So, off we’ll go to Subway buying the sandwich meal deal.

The lesson I’ve always tried to teach them is that we’re no better then anyone else. I’ve made a tradition that every Thanksgiving and Christmas we make a trip to Big Lots finding all sorts of goodies for folks struggling. This is appreciated more than you’ll ever know.

Last year we brought warm clothes, socks, blankets, chapstick, mittens, sweat shirts, playing cards, flash lights and other things that can help lift their spirits. We didn’t leave out the children that are in shelters. Toys for Tots is an awesome route or like us, we buy gifts, wrap them ourselves and hand deliver them to the children.

Having my kids see firsthand how important one small gift means to another child is priceless. Let me tell you, all this iPad talk goes out the window in a quick hurry. It’s a quiet ride home and the feeling of our blessings overwhelm us with joy. We can easily forget about the folks that are cold and hungry when we’re tucked into our nice warm beds every night with full tummys.

It’s truly about being grateful for what we’ve got, regardless of how big or small. Remember that giving is far greater than getting. Speak kind words to one another — your children will see that your actions speak louder than words.

We hope you join us this year in helping others. It can be as simple as giving extra canned goods to another family. In doing so, you’ve not only helped someone out, but taught your own child the gift of giving.

Please share your stories about giving back, we’d love to hear them and maybe [copy and paste] them in our own lives!


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  1. hi, just wanted to thank you gena for being such a inspiring woman that’s helping so many. i’m on your thyroid sexy and all you do there is give, this just showed me another side to you that makes me admire you even more. thank you so much! lori

  2. Gena, you move me! I’m taking my kids this year to the shelters in our town a real eye opener. Hearing about your own struggles growing up made me love you even more. #YourARealSweetheart God Bless

  3. Hi Gena! My wife and I both work in missions all over the country. This blog informing parents the importance of serving others is just awesome! What an example you are to the clueless on exposing their children to real life. Fan of yours for years, since your Price is Right days! Better then ever in all the right ways.

  4. I’m a 10th grade teacher who heads a group of teens called “glad givers” we go to shelters 4-5 times a year. Giving clothes that’s collected by the kids and canned food from the annual school food drive. I came from nothing and still have hards times on a teachers salary with children of my own to raise. It’s important to get kids involved at all ages. It also gives them the tools for life and compassion towards humanity. You’re a true blessing Gena Lee! Wonderful blog CBS

  5. Really enjoyed this! You should blog about thyroid disease vs postpartum depression! I have a 17 month old and one due next month! HELP gena. thanks

  6. Love the messages and the specific examples of how to teach your kids to think beyond themselves. Creating a family giving tradition around the holidays is a great way to turn philanthropy into a lasting habit. For example, we like to sit down as a family after Thanksgiving and make hand-made cards for the troops. Kudos on a terrific post.

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