Monday, May 19, 2014

Family Service, Part 1

A lot of families ask me for ideas of ways that their families can serve together.  I think it's awesome that they are thinking about this and want to serve together as a family.

It tells me that they recognize the value and importance of giving back in fostering gratitude and generosity in their children.  Serving together also helps kids experience all the good that can come from reaching beyond yourselves and putting others first.

Yet sometimes I wonder how in the world I'd ever fit in family service to our schedule.  That's why I found what Marilyn Sharpe has to say about family service in her book For Heaven's Sake! Parenting Preschoolers Faithfully very reassuring.

She writes, "Parenting is full-time service.  No breaks.  No vacation.  No sick leave.  This includes all of us, those who are home full time, those who work outside the home, and everyone in between.  Wherever we are, we carry the thoughts and concern for our children with us."

She continues, "Parenting is physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually demanding.  And, it is the most important work you will ever do.  God creates humankind and provides parents as stewards, helping children become all they have been created to be.  No wonder this is such important and demanding work.  It is vocation, God's call to us.

As a parent, you're not going to have to worry about how to fill your service bucket. Parenting fills it to overflowing."  So, she writes, "Let that overflow splash on the young children you love.  Let them share the load and the sense of purpose."  Here are a few examples things your kids may do that you can name as service...ways you can "catch" them doing good and give thanks for the ways they are serving within your family life at home.
  • Your toddler brings you a diaper for the baby.
  • Your child helps you clear the table or sort the silverware after it's clean.
  • Your little one hugs you when you are sad.
  • You are sick in bed and your child brings you a blanket and a pillow.
  • Your children pitch in to help pick up toys before company arrives.
There are numerous other examples of ways you can catch your children serving to be sure, but it is kind of a relief to know that at this point in life, with two young kids, I don't need to worry about fitting one more thing into our family calendar.  Giving back and serving others is definitely important, but it's reassuring to know that for now, a sense of service and generosity can be fostered right at home.

For those of you who would like some ideas and resources for serving as a family, please check out my post Family Service, Part 2, which you can find here.

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