We are in the season of giving! Throughout the year, we work hard, so the holidays are a wonderful time when we can slow down and start thinking about how grateful we are and how important it is to give to people who are in need.
Here is how to teach your children why giving back and volunteering is so valuable, and why it’s important to do!
My Childhood Ways
I had always been taught growing up that giving back was important. My family was a middle-class family of six. We were rich in what we had EVERY, SINGLE, DAY! A roof over our heads, food on the table, with family and friends all around us.
We had a lot of relatives who lived in the Philippines. I recall as a child we would pack toys, clothes, and cool gadgets from the U.S. in cardboard boxes and ship them to our cousins who needed them. These boxes were called Balikbayan boxes, and were specifically termed this in the ’70s by the Philippine government.
As a Catholic family, we would go to church every Sunday. I would always be so excited to put the money in the collection baskets when they came around! If I was lucky enough to be sitting at the end, I would also be able to walk it up to the altar with all the other members and consolidate the money in one big basket.
At the time, maybe I thought it was just something that we had to do, our normal thing every Sunday. But this is something my parents had done right! They instilled habitual values to their children where we would either remember them and/or pass them down.
As a teen, my mother would be involved in planning the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) reunion at her hospital. My friends and I would volunteer to be princesses for the children, and we would sing to them in their hospital room. Volunteering my time for these events was something I loved to do. Sharing my talents for others is in my genes! (My father is a natural entertainer–Filipino Elvis!)
How We Are Teaching Our Kids About Giving Back + Volunteering
Through our Church
Since I come from a Catholic family, and my husband does as well, it was easy for us to incorporate the religious ways of teaching our kids the same values as our Church does. St. Michael Catholic Community has a great religious education program called FLT, where they have huge family engagement with all of the children. They also provide community service opportunities, a youth group community, sacraments for all ages, and family-fun church activities.
Through our Parents
Both my husband’s and my parents are older, so having our children help their grandparents with chores, simple conversations, or activities is all about spending precious time with others. Knowing that their grandparents are elderly, our children are also aware to help strangers that are elderly who may need it at the grocery store, or wherever we may be.
Through our Careers
Being of service to others has always been part of both of our careers. My husband has been a nurse for over 10 years and is still in the healthcare industry caring for others. I have always been in the customer service industry for over 20 years, and now have transitioned over to the nonprofit world at A Kid Again, where serving others is what I do every day.
Through our Actions
Actions DO speak louder than words. Just as I had mentioned earlier, be the ONE your children want to be like. Leading by example is a great way we both try to be better! Not just for them, but for ourselves.
While I was a stay-at-home-mom, I volunteered my spare time when I could. This helped me build my own social network, but it also showed our children how important it was that I, as a busy mom, volunteered extra time for others!
When you look at your children, I am sure you see yourselves in them. Sometimes you think they aren’t listening or watching you, but their little brains remember so much, and they tend to mirror and copy actions you don’t even remember doing!
Why We Are Teaching Our Kids About Giving Back + Volunteering
So why is it so important to teach our children about giving back and volunteering? The more they care for others, they will find it more and more rewarding for them as they grow and learn, as well as finding out that making others happy will make them feel like they have a sense of purpose. Most importantly, they’ll find out that making an impact in someone else’s life is HUGE.
Our children are now fourteen and eight years old. Earlier in the year we volunteered as a family, and we are going to be doing it again during the holidays. We can’t wait for more family and giving time!