There’s the common pitfall of limiting our efforts to volunteer and help those in need during certain times of the year. During Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas facilities turn volunteers away. That’s a direct contrast to the other 360ish days of the year. We live in a nation with vast needs and our hands are a critical tool to alleviate some of that pain and heartache. If volunteering were homegrown throughout the course of the calendar year it would have a monumental impact on the dynamics of the character and integrity of each family member. You want to knock your family’s socks off in regards to bonding, communication and character? Volunteer!
Teenagers get a bad wrap…
There’s a stigma attached to teenagers being selfish and self absorbed. But when they are inundated with messages of self on a daily basis, how are they to know otherwise? Whether through social media, peers, the latest gadgets and society the only message they receive is about them. As parents, uncles, cousins and grandparents it is up to us to lay the foundation early that can counteract these messages saturated in the gunk of self. Change of heart and mindset can happen, but it takes time, patience and consistency.
It is unnatural to think of others before us. We are innately wired to focus on our needs and wants prior to anyone else. This is wear re-wiring our thinking and our young people’s mindset comes into play. In my fifteen years working in the mental health field the greatest change in young people is due to exposure to volunteer projects. You can literally watch their eyes open, minds begin to turn and their hearts soften. Sixteen years of classroom presentations, assemblies and lectures pale in comparison to the real thing.
Volunteering is a critical ingredient for character and integrity….
Do you want a stronger relationship with your spouse? Would you like to communicate better with your kids? Are you concerned with impulsive and self- motivated behaviors by your young ones? Do you want to rock their world and instill a level of character and integrity that will lay the pathway for the strongest your family has ever been? Volunteer. Get your hands dirty. Allow your perception to focus on hearts instead of physical and social perceptions. Empathy will begin to erode against the tug of self -indulgent behaviors. You can do this. Make this next year about growth, empathy and appreciation that will add a depth to your family that you’ve never imagined.
Making words transform into actions….
- In order for the characteristics described above to manifest themselves into a reality this cannot be a one shot deal. Allow it to be ongoing and at least twice a year. The one and done challenge simply does not work.
- Take the age of your young people into consideration and make a list of what population you, as a family, would like to serve.
- Roll with something already in the works. It will make your efforts so much easier.
- Contact programs in your community: Churches, Temples, Rotary Club, Lions Club, Salvation Army, Soup Kitchens, Homeless Shelters, Women’s Shelters and your local animal welfare.
- Serve those who serve us: Police station, Fire station, Life Guard station, military serving abroad (send care packages), your local vfw, etc.
- Create your own projects: neighborhood collections – blankets or socks for the homeless, cans for area food pantries or adopting a family in need for the holidays.
As adults, assume the lead in connecting our words with actions there is unlimited potential. This positive domino effect on your young people is inevitable. How awesome is that? Take some time in making a plan that will have an amazing impact on your entire family. Rock it out!
Peace, love and goodness!
Erin Lawler Patterson