So over the last few weeks, I've given you some ideas of what to send and what to write to your sponsored child. Today I'm going to tell you what you shouldn't send to your sponsored child. Some conversation topics and little gifts are inappropriate or confusing for a child growing up in a third world country. It can be difficult to know for sure what is taboo.
Don't talk about...
1.) American pop culture. - Don't mention Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber when you're writing a letter to your sponsored child. Kids in third world countries aren't around much television. The pop culture icons they do know will often be celebrities from their country, not from yours, or celebrities that were most popular ten years ago, such as Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. Don't discuss movies, television shows, popular songs, or celebrities with your sponsored child. You will most likely confuse her or make her feel inadequate.
2.) Politics. - Even if you don't like our president, your child may have been raised to adore him. Your child might feel suspicious of you if you talk negatively about your government. And do not put down your child's government. You could get your child in trouble for possessing letters that talk badly about their political leaders. Controversial political topics such as abortion and gay marriage should be avoided in your letters as well.
3.) Using slang. - Avoid metaphors and figures of speech in your letters. Your child probably doesn't speak English as a first language. He won't understand. American slang, such as "homeboy" or "What's up?" could even be confusing to your child.
4.) Your worries and concerns. - Remember that your sponsored child has lived a difficult life. She has probably seen many of her family members and friends pass away. She's gone hungry. She lives in poverty. She has a lot of worries. If you talk about family members of your own who have died or are dying, you could cause your child to worry about you as well, a burden that she doesn't need on top of everything else. Avoid talking about severe illnesses, death, and financial worries.
5.) What your child would like you to send him. - While you might wonder what your child would prefer- stickers or a bookmark, it could put your child in a very awkward position. He may have even been told by his sponsorship organization not to ask you for anything because you've already blessed him with so much.
6.) Poor scores on a child's report card. - Even if you are concerned about the low scores your child has received on a report card, don't specifically bring it up in your letters. Your criticism could cause your child much embarrassment. Your child will want to please you, but there could be serious factors in her life that are preventing her from making good grades in school. If you're concerned about your child's school work, simply say something to the effect of, "Remember to try hard in school. I know you're very smart and God has many plans for you, so you must always remember to do your best," and leave it at that.
7.) Your material possessions. - Don't describe how many rooms you have in your house or your Christmas presents you received. This will make your child feel much different from you and perhaps even alienated and un-special.
8.) Your child's disease. - If your child has HIV or AIDS, don't bring it up unless your child speaks of it first. HIV/AIDS can be a very embarrassing subject for your child to discuss.
9.) Your child's deceased friends and family members. - Avoid making your letters something sad for your child. Don't question her about the dead. Instead, send her encouraging notes and Bible verses.
10.) Talking about your child visiting you in the United States. - Even if you only say something like, "I wish you could come visit me in America one day," your child could easily take your words out of context and believe that you're coming to take him to America one day. Don't give him false hopes.
Don't send your child...
1.) Money - Don't even send pennies in letters to your child. What seems like a little bit of money to you is a lot of money to children in third world countries, and having pocket money can put them in danger. Send money through your sponsorship organization. They'll ensure that the money goes to help your child's family.
2.) Food - This can become bad through the mail, but it could also be confiscated by immigration or postal officials.
3.) Crayons - These can melt in the mail.
4.) Markers and Pens - If these break, they'll make quite a mess in the letter.
5.) Photographs of your house - This will cause your child to feel alienated from your life. This also goes for taking photos of your bedroom or any rooms in your home. Your kitchen may be the size of your child's home.
6.) Photographs of your material possessions - Don't take pictures of your TV, cars, or even your new bookshelf. Things that seem small and fascinating to your life will make your child feel inadequate to you.
7.) Photographs of your fancy vacations - While I encourage you to send pictures of scenery and plants, don't send pictures of the nice hotel where you're staying or the pretty pools at the resorts.
8.) Sharp Objects - Avoid sending pocket knives, pencil sharpeners, scissors, and fingernail clippers.
9.) Breakable Items - While it might be a cute gift, avoid sending something like a mirror, which could easily break in the mail and become sharp and dangerous or a disappointment for your child to receive.
10.) Political Newspaper Clippings - If you saw a little newspaper article about your child's country's latest scandal, please do not send that. You could get your child in trouble.
11.) Used/Soiled Clothes - While some sponsorship organizations will encourage you to send underwear or socks to your child, please don't send used clothes. Make your gifts something special. Wal-Mart or a dollar store will have inexpensive underclothes for you to send your child instead.
12.) Seeds - These could be confiscated before they ever reach your child.
13.) Expensive-looking Toys - If you send your child very nice toys in the mail, these will alienate him from his peers and make him a target of jealousy. Give your child cute and small gifts, but don't give him anything that will make his school mates and neighbors turn against him.
14.) Expensive-looking Jewelry - Even if the pretty earrings you want to send your child are only cubic zirconium, they might be taken as something very expensive and cause your child grief.
15.) Things your sponsorship program ask you not to send. - Each sponsorship program is different. Compassion International has a very specific list of things you are not allowed to send, while World Vision only asks you to not send a few things. Be sure to read over the list on your organization's website to ensure that you won't be breaking any rules and your letter will arrive safely into your child's hands.
I hope this list helped you. Don't worry that your child won't like the little gifts or letters you send him. Remember that you are providing your sponsored child with an education and food and medical care. You are his hero. He will be excited to hear from you, even if your letter might seem "lame" to your eyes.