Like the little black dress (LBD) is the staple for any wardrobe, gratitude should be the staple attitude. In this day and age it seems like many would prefer to be self-serving as opposed to serve others. As parents it is important that we break this cycle. How do we break the cycle? As Ghandi said, “be the change that you want to see in the world”. Model the behavior you would like to instill in your children. In the book Raising Unselfish Children in a Self-Absorbed World the author Jill Rigby suggests a few ways in which unselfishness can be taught:
•Refusing to overindulge your kids by helping them develop patience and teaching them responsibility
•Teaching empathy and understanding
•Helping them understand the importance and necessity of forgiveness and how to ask for it and accept it
•Spending time together as a family
•Helping out in your community
I realize that as parents we often have the best intentions of helping out in our community but sometimes it just doesn’t make it on the calendar. So, we need to make it a priority, just like we place the PTA meetings, soccer games, dance class, piano lessons, etc. on our calendars we need to also include serving the community. It need not be something to time-consuming, you could make brownies with your children and drop them off with a thank you note to your local fire station, have kiddos help you go through the pantry and fill up a bag to donate to a local food shelter, volunteer at a local Ronald McDonald house, etc. You could do something different each month or the same things every month but the key is to schedule it on your calendar as you would any other priority. Make community service and gratitude part of your family’s routine and it will become a part of your children’s life.
It can also be fun to get friends involved. This also increases your chances of following through with your plans, similar to having a workout buddy, have a family you volunteer with and chances are you will be more accountable.
This year we started, Sponsor Pizza and Movie Night with our playgroup. Every other month our playgroup donates and serves pizza, pop, juice, dessert, and donates a movie to our local Family Shelter. The experience has really taught my little ones the virtue of patience and service, to put others before themselves, to serve those residing in the shelter the food and dessert, to make sure others are provided for before themselves. It has also taught them to be thankful for what they have, their home, their bedroom, their toys, etc. It has been a positive experience and I look forward to serving many more meals.
Please share ways that you have incorporated service into your life and/or family’s life. How did you find the time?