Sometimes we think our kids never listen to us. This can be a particularly difficult problem when kids become teenagers. It seems that no matter what we tell them, they just shrug and give us that obnoxious response of “whatever” and we make no impact at all.
But any child or youth counselor will tell us that this is absolutely not the case. That outside show of indifference is just that, a show. Teenagers do not jump from children to sophisticated, hardened and cynical adults in few weeks or months time. The emotional growth of a human at this age moves along just as slowly as when they were children. So even though they are adult looking on the outside, on the inside you still have a very emotional little boy or girl who want nothing more than to please mom and dad and still try to figure out this new world they are living in.
Children and teenagers value the time they get with their parents tremendously. It might be twenty years later when you come to realize how important it is to them but they need both quality and quantity time with their mom and their dad. It is part of how their personalities form and it has a huge impact on their self esteem and ability to go out there and conquer the world.
They learn how to handle stress from their parents. They learn how to succeed and how to gracefully lose and how to take a loss and turn it into a win from the people they know the best and that is their parents. Yes, they do listen to what you say. But they listen more than you may even realize. They listen to what adults say to each other and to other adults. And they listen even more closely to what you say with your actions.
We all want to instill good values in our kids. But how to do that and still have some fun times with them and do so in the limited time everybody is home. Well one outstanding way is to plan for family outings that include service projects to the community. That is one outstanding way to ‘talk with your actions” about your commitment to community service.
Now that concept may at first seem like you are just going to add more work to your already full plate of things to do. But doing a service project as a family doesn’t have to be tedious and tiring. There are tons of things you can do that provide service to your community but are lots of fun for everyone including…
1. Go have fun at the park but while you are there, pick up every tiny bit of litter you can find.
2. Be a volunteer at the family night at church and help the little kids enjoy the rides and games that are planned for them. You own little ones will love seeing you be in charge of the Jupiter Jump and it will build community.
3. Find an area along the river where erosion is happening and plant a tree. It will hold back the erosion and you can have fun doing a gardening project and maybe even wet a hook and catch a fish.
4. Go down to the shelter and read your favorite books to needy children. The kids can bring the books that were precious to them as little ones and they get to feel that joy of seeing a child laugh at the same things they laughed at when they were young. Be careful though that you don’t find your kids wanting to adopt every kid at the shelter by the time you are done.
Family service projects are a hidden goldmine of fun and bonding for the whole family. Once you get started doing them, you wont want to stop. You will find the whole family rushing to get ready each evening or looking forward to Saturday when they can get out there and do another one. And while you are building family unity and bonding with your kids, they are finding out that community service is a way of life and a great way to have fun at the same time.