Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Serving Within Your Families

We often think about this time of the year and wonder who we can serve – who we can help. We think about our neighbors or even the homeless, but I think we could do a lot of good by looking within our families as well. We could help our children forge lasting bonds with each other by helping them learn to love through service. We could renew our love with our spouses and remember the love we have for our children (even though they can be frustrating at times) by feeling the love that comes through serving them.

Think for a moment just how wonderful, happy, and full of love you feel when you do a good deed. We often associate those feelings with the person holding the cardboard sign or the widow in the neighborhood – imagine how much kinder and patient you’d be if you felt those feelings for each and every member of your family every day.

It can seem difficult to get your children to understand why they should do something for a sibling, but if you make it a family effort and if you make it fun your children will grow to love and look forward to serving each other.

Some ideas for service within your family include:

- Make a ‘pay it forward’ pass-along card for your children to leave when they’ve done something kind. The card is then taken and passed on with another act of service to another member of the family.
- Encourage your children to help set up for a sibling’s birthday dinner or breakfast
- Help your children make breakfast for Mother’s/Father’s Day
- Encourage your children to make cards and gifts for Christmas and birthdays
- Have a day each month where your family can write secret notes to each other
- Do a ‘Secret Santa’ each year within your family
- Fill a manger with straw for each good deed leading up to Christmas

Always remember that whatever you can do to encourage service within your family will strengthen the bonds your children have with you and with each other. Nothing helps us love more than service.

Do your children enjoy doing things for each other? What are some fun things you have done with your children to encourage service within your family? How did your children react?



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