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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Adrienne Patterson: How Do I Get My Kids More Involved?

QUESTION:  I have young children and I would really like to get them used to the idea of being more involved, not just in extracurriculars but also our community.  Any suggestions?


As my kids have gotten older I have begun to feel the pressure to get them “involved.”  Once they hit about 5 all of the sudden there is a world of opportunities for them….they now qualify for summer camps, swim team, soccer, dance classes, art classes, vacation bible school.  When it is your first child you are just chomping at the bit to get them involved (a.k.a out of your hair).  And it is fun to see them join a team, attempt a new skill or just do something without you right next to them.  However this new involvement does come at a cost.  Dinnertime coincides with practice and game times, the new art class costs way more than that simple $40 registration fee (they fail to tell you all the materials they expect you to provide) and hauling the whole crew downtown and back for a 30 min. ballet class suddenly makes you wonder if it truly is worth it.  At the end of the day it is worth it though b/c you get that precious recital or team photo can bam, another page in the scrapbook is done and you can check “getting my kids involved” right off your to-do list.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the dance and soccer but something I have found to be even more fun, more rewarding, cheaper and less stressful is volunteering.  In a world where it is all about how many sports your kid can play and how good they are somehow the act of going out and working to serve others gets put on the back burner.  A year or so ago we stood back and kind of took stock in our family life and our priorities and we realized that in a world where first place, competitiveness and who’s got the newest Zhu Zhu Pet we were going to have to be very purposeful in our attempt to teach our kids to follow Jesus’ model and realize that they are not here to be served but to serve others out of the abundance that they have.  So we started seeking opportunities where we could work as a family to serve others in our community. Fortunately we are part of a wonderful church that gave us some great ideas to get started and from there as we began looking suddenly opportunities where everywhere!  Since that time I have also started a group called Mommy & Me Missions that focuses on getting moms and their kids to serve together.  My goal was to find things that were fun for the kids so that they would associate serving with having a good time and it worked!!  Suddenly my girls who huffed and puffed at having to carry their shoes upstairs were unloading boxes of canned corn at the Salvation Army pantry with smiles and washing the playground equipment at a local childcare facility with enthusiasm! 

So if you want to get involved consider the following….

1.    Look at opportunities within your church, or if you aren’t part of a church just pick a large church in your areas and check out their website or call the church office.
2.    Call your local Salvation Army, United Way etc.  You wouldn’t believe how desperate these places are for volunteers!
3.    Find a soup kitchen or homeless shelter in your area and sign up to volunteer.
4.    Contact your local food bank (i.e. Golden Harvest Food Bank) and find out how they are serving local food pantries in your community.
5.    Just open your eyes, ask around and pray for opportunities BUT beware b/c these are just the kind of prayers God loves to answer!!

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