March 18, 2014 by Jen Cudmore
The other day my son spent several hours lying in the hallway beside the bathroom before he finally felt well enough to sleep in his bed. When I checked on him later, his stomach finally felt better but he had a scratchy throat.
When I stepped out of his room a moment later, I saw his sister in the bathroom. She passed by me with a tiny cup of water and handed it to him to ease the irritation in his throat. And my heart warmed at her generosity.
One important aspect of parenting is that we must teach our children to serve. Some kids naturally desire to help others while some children are more self-centered; yet all personalities must be taught the value of putting others first. While helping people may not always be fun in the moment, they will eventually learn the satisfaction that comes from completing a task and serving someone in need.
I learned this concept from Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages. When my family went to Maui in 2011, we were surprised to see that he was speaking at a church just down the road from our condo. Sunday morning we attended the service and spoke with him afterward. He signed a book for us called The Family You’ve Always Wanted. I’d always known it was important to make my children help out at home but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. He helped me understand.
In the home, there is much to be done and the family must work together to complete the tasks – it shouldn’t fall on one person. Having children do regular chores teaches them responsibility, teamwork, and the value of living for the greater good rather than only yourself.
For example, a trip to Costco is a family affair in my home. When we return to the house, we all unload the car and put the items away. Last week, while my husband and son cut up all the meat, bagged it into meal-size portions, and stacked it in the freezer, my daughter and I broke down all the boxes and burned them in the fireplace. We all felt a sense of accomplishment when we finished, and we had a good time working together.
Teach your children to serve! Start at home and then have them branch out to other places such as church and school. And of course, model the behavior as well.
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