Every parent has heard it from every teenager from the beginning of time, “I’m bored!” The next time you hear that phrase, maybe it’s time for you to have the talk about volunteering.
Aside from getting them out of your hair for a few hours, there are several reasons why teens should get involved in their community:
It gives them purpose. Volunteering gives your teen ownership of a project. It teaches him responsibility for arriving on time and completing a task. It shows that one individual can make a difference.
It gives them perspective. So many teens claim they have it rough. There’s nothing like working in a soup kitchen to realize they’ve been blessed. Additionally, a volunteer project can teach your teen tolerance by putting them in touch with people of different backgrounds. Even diverse individuals can unite through common values to make a difference. Ultimately she will see that we all have a responsibility for building a stronger community.
It gives them prowess. By taking on leadership roles, learning new skills and getting involved in areas of interest, your teen will gain valuable skills that will help him in his future career.
It gives them passion. It seems all teens go through the phase, “everything’s stupid.” Empowering her to get involved may actually get her to discover that spark that ignites the sense that she is part of a greater community.
So how do you get them off the couch and into their community?
Discover their interests. Don’t make volunteering a chore. Talk with your teen about his current interests. Does he like working with peers or other age groups? Has he wanted to learn about other cultures? Has he shown interest in a career field? There’s certainly a cause in our community that fits.
Understand their skills. Everyone has talents and some are waiting to be discovered. Volunteering provides a great playground to strengthen the budding carpenter or lawyer.
Determine their commitment. How much time can your teen give to an organization? Can they only give a day or a few hours a week? Regardless of the level of commitment, most organizations have a range of projects that would fit your teen’s schedule. Remember you may have to provide transportation so factor that into the decision.
And finally, if you want your teens to volunteer you should lead by example. The Corporation for National and Community Service reports that 86 percent of teenagers who volunteer have parents that volunteer themselves. This may even give you an opportunity to spend time together and unearth a common interest. Now that’s something to talk about.