We live in a very self-centred world. As parents, we need to be intentional about teaching our children to think of other people instead of always focusing on themselves. Here are three ways to lead by example.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (I Peter 4:8-10 NIV)
This can be as simple as inviting someone over for a play date and working on the concept of sharing toys or hosting friends for a meal. All of our lives are all busy, so this is something we will have to consciously choose.
- Plan ahead and mark it on your calendar.
- Know your limits. If you don’t have the time or energy to prepare the food yourself, buy it.
- Include your whole family in the preparations. Preschoolers can mix the salad, put napkins on the table, or stir the juice. School-age children are able to set the table, peel vegetables, help prepare food, or make fancier napkin designs.
- Focus on spending time with your guests rather than fretting about making sure everything is perfect.
- Challenge your family members to learn at least two facts about your guests. (Let them know before your guests arrive that you will be having a quiz after the guests have gone home. If you want, award a prize to the person who shares the most interesting fact.) Focus on the Family shares these tips: Help your children relax in social settings by tutoring them ahead of time in the art of making conversation. Suggest topics they might like to talk about and rehearse helpful conversation starters (e.g. “What are you looking forward to over the holidays, Grandpa?”; “Is that pretty necklace new, Aunty? “Would you like to hear about . . .”) Help your kids offer more than just yes or no answers too. For example, to answer “Do you enjoy school?” they might reply, “It’s okay, but what I really enjoy is . . ..”
Volunteer as a family
“Adults who began volunteering as youth are twice as likely to volunteer as those who did not volunteer when they were younger.” The United Way
Take into account the ages and interests of your children when you are considering volunteering as a family.
- Walk animals at a local animal shelter
- Serve food or coffee at an event
- Shovel your neighbour’s sidewalk or participate in a “Snow Angels” program
- Take your bottles to the nearest recycling facility and donate the proceeds to your favourite charity
- Plant a community garden or share some of the produce from your own garden
- Sign up for janitorial duty in your church
- Sponsor a child with an organization like Compassion Canada or Dalit Freedom Network
- Check out information from Volunteer Canada
Visit the elderly
Our society tends to segregate people and often we miss out on opportunities to learn from the wisdom elderly people have to share. When I was growing up, my Dad taught us to not only respect the elderly, but also to make time to visit with them and care about them. Caring.com has these 11 tips for those who visit the elderly:
- Remember that it’s not about you
- Focus on the person inside
- Time your visit with care
- Set the right tone with a warm greeting
- Tweak your communication style
- Bring props
- Come prepared with a few phrases
- Try a change of scenery
- Keep it real
- Choose short-and-sweet over long-and-vapid
- Don’t be intimidated by dementia
Do you have other examples to share? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
Ruth L. Snyder resides close to Glendon with her husband and five children. She enjoys writing articles, devotionals, short stories, and Christian fiction. She is a member of The Word Guild and The Christian PEN. Ruth currently serves as the President of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship.
In her spare time, Ruth enjoys reading, crafts, volunteering, photography, and travel. Several years ago, Ruth and her family traveled through 28 States in 30 days!