Most of us are pretty busy people. In my own life, I am barely keeping up. When I think of giving my time to others, it sometimes feels overwhelming. Yet, isn’t that what Jesus told us to do? How can we give, and teach our children to give, when we are over-scheduled and busy? First, there are two areas that we need to consider when we think of giving: inside our home and outside our home.
If you are caring for a young family, a special needs child, a new baby, or other extenuating circumstances in your home; then the best place to practice giving for you and your children is at home. Taking good care of them is one way that we are teaching them to give. You can help them understand this by requesting their help and telling them how you help those in your family. Praising them and telling them how good it is that they are giving their time will teach them to give and to think of others needs. In our home, the rule is if you cannot be kind to your siblings, then you are not ready for get-togethers with your friends. Make your home a place where you teach giving; taking on a project outside the home when you are struggling as a family is never a good idea.
However, if your family is ready to move outside the home in your giving, I have shared some ideas that you can read about here. Make sure that you choose activities that your children will enjoy and are a good match for them. I encourage you to talk to them about the areas they are interested in serving, and allow them to make these decisions, with your guidance.
I have personally seen the importance of hearing my children’s opinions and encouraging them to share what is working, and changing what is not. For the past five years, my children and I have volunteered at a local greenhouse. While all my children enjoyed helping at the greenhouse, two of them in particular enjoyed it more than one other. It would be terrific if we all went together. However, knowing that it was not something she enjoyed, I only took the children who wanted to go. We were all much happier that way. The child who was not interested served other places instead, without becoming resentful while serving.
Finally, while it is good to teach my children the importance of keeping their commitments to others, I must also watch for signs that they are ready for a break, or have become overwhelmed. For example, our son helped for a few years in the four and five year old class at church. For two years, he enjoyed this ministry, but I could see that his passion was not what it was in the beginning. When I spoke to him, he thought about it, and then realized that while he still liked helping, he had become frustrated and thought he needed a break. When the next schedule came out, we requested he be removed. Now, after a yearlong break, he is eager to return to the children again. It is crucial to remember that their cups must be full in order for them to pour out love to others.
Even Jesus went to quiet places and rested during His ministry. Thankfully, His heavenly father was there every step of the way encouraging Him and caring for Him, just as we should our own children when they serve, and just as He will be for our children, as well.