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Encourage Your Teen to Volunteer

Updated on June 28, 2011

Shape Future Generations Through Volunteering

As parents, some of your choices have greater impact on shaping the future of your children, such as teaching them the benefits of sharing and caring - even being a volunteer.

Granted, life is filled with a variety of activities and interests; sometimes it's hard to choose between what you would like to do and what is most important to do and it's a battle you will always fight, to some degree. Of course, you would like to do things you enjoy - things which make you feel happy and carefree when you get the opportunity - and it's a good thing.

However, if you continually choose to do things for your own gratification, your children would learn to do the same. They would rarely consider the needs of others because they would be so absorbed with their own needs.

One way to ensure this doesn't happen is to encourage your children to volunteer, to teach them what volunteering is all about - what's involved and what is expected of them.

Photo credit: First Lutheran, Calgary


What does it mean to volunteer?

First of all, to volunteer is to give of yourself to help another; it always involves donating your time but, sometimes, it requires a financial contribution.

During other times, it means providing information in your area of expertise or, in its most basic form, your assistance is required.

Where Can You Find Volunteers?

Actually, they surround you.

They offer to watch your children for a couple of hours so you can get some time to yourselves. They help in hospitals and give patients something to look forward to. Volunteers may be leaders or coaches of extra-curricular groups in school. They are found in organizations designed to help the poor; you'll find them in the shelters and soup kitchens. You'll find them all over the place during a national catastrophe. Sometimes you'll even find them on the streets. Essentially, when you perform a task without getting compensated, you are volunteering.

Photo credit: Omniumdemontreal

Volunteer - Do Something You Want to Do

and do it with all your heart.

When you volunteer, you are offering to do something which you want to do, with no feeling of pressure associated with the deed; there is no force or coercion involved. If you decide not to volunteer at a later date, it's up to you. If you decide to volunteer for longer durations of time, that's also up to you. Essentially, your services are desired for as long as you are interested in providing them.

Photo credit: Green Light, New Orleans

Volunteering - Is There a Manual?

Actually, those who are interested in helping others don't need one.

The art of volunteering doesn't come with a manual; some people have a knack for reaching out to embrace those in need, while others focus largely on themselves and/or those in their network of family and friends.

If you volunteer of your time to help others - whether helping the poor and homeless or a sports team down the street - there are a few things you can do to encourage your child/teen to follow in your steps:

Photo credit: Great Nonprofits

Take your child with you when you have volunteer duty. Let him watch along the sidelines so he can get an idea of what's going on and the role

you are playing in

making things possible.

Observe

Encourage interaction

Observe people less fortunate. Take your teen to meet some of the homeless people living on the streets, without going into the dangerous parts of your town/city. Ask them their names and talk to them as though they are important. Let them touch your hand or feel your hair; let them know you care.

It will be impressed upon your teen's mind because it's likely he has never seen a homeless person unless on a television screen and he will be amazed to learn that these people have stories. He may even become interested in learning more about some of the people he meets.

Photo credit: Payvand

Don't discourage your child/teen from helping others because

you feel he is too young.

If your child has an interest in helping others, embrace and encourage it. Chances are your child will grow to be compassionate and empathetic to people from all walks of life.

Volunteering Requires Acceptance

Please, do not judge!

Don't judge the circumstances of those you volunteer to help. Sometimes life throws surprises which end in unexpected, sometimes painful, repercussions. You can feel sorry for a man who lives on the street. You can even take steps to try to get the man off the street, but never judge him because he lives on the street; you don't know all the aspects of his journey through life.

When volunteering, it's imperative to accept people as human-beings with feelings, regardless of their skin color, race, religion, gender or background.

When your child watches you accepting others without reservation, he is more likely to develop an interest in helping those in need. Your child will have learned, firsthand, that people themselves are not always responsible for every aspect of their circumstances - that people still have personalities, dreams and interests, even if they don't have the latest styles of clothing.

More importantly, your child will learn that one simple twist of fate can change what had once been a promising future.

Volunteering Makes a Difference

Deep inside where no one sees

Volunteering affects your soul; a change takes place because you witness the triumphs or, alternately, the sorrows of another person's life. You may be excited that your soccer team won the game, then shout and raise your hands in victory. However, you may have a comfortable bed to sleep in but wonder about the homeless man on the street; you wonder whether he will live through the night or die from the penetrating cold.

You cannot walk away unaffected and, by nurturing those thoughts in your child, he will grow up appreciating the blessings in his life; he won't take life for granted and, when he's tempted to grumble and complain, he will remember the lessons of his youth and be humbled.

The act of volunteering to help your fellowman brings some of the greatest rewards life can offer.

Photo credit: Artists Helping the Homeless

Ultimately, volunteering provides valuable life lessons:

it teaches you to give unconditionally,

to receive openly,

to love freely

and to hope eternally.

I hope you've enjoyed the few points brought forth in this lens.

Please feel free to share your thoughts with me...

This lens was blessed by a Squid Angel!

Would you like to visit other lenses of mine which have received Squid Angel blessings?

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Image credit: Comments Yard.

Volunteering Thoughts Guestbook

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    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 6 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Great job on this! Volunteering is one of the most soul-satisfying things I've ever done. Lensrolling this to my lens about becoming a Search & Rescue volunteer. Most teams have a lower age limit of 18 but some do allow minors to participate, and there are even some teams made up of ALL teens.

    • textbookmommy profile image

      textbookmommy 6 years ago

      I enjoyed reading this very informative lens, good job! There was some awesome ideas to follow. *Blessed by a Squid Angel

    • AuthorNormaBudden profile image
      Author

      AuthorNormaBudden 7 years ago

      @Leanne Chesser: Thanks so much, Leanne.

    • profile image

      Leanne Chesser 7 years ago

      I agree that it's important to encourage our teens to volunteer. Lensrolled to my lens on people who are homeless and to my random acts of kindness lens. Blessed as well.