Volunteering: It’s Not Just About You Anymore

via flickr
via flickr

via flickr

Dear Mr. Dad: I have to admit that my wife and I have been a bit self-centered in our adult lives, focusing on our work, earning money, and supporting the family. We’ve done quite well financially and we’ve both decided that we should start giving something back to our community. We want to get our kids involved too, but they’re pretty young—only 5 and 7. Honestly, I don’t even know where to start. Are the kids too young? And what’s the best way get going?

A: Your kids are definitely not too young to volunteer in their community. In fact, there’s no such thing as too young. Plenty of people bring babies to visit nursing-home residents or shut-ins, and preschoolers and early elementary school kids often go on field trips to the same places to sing holiday songs , put on a play, or just draw pictures. Bringing a smile to the face of people who don’t have a lot of joy in their lives is a wonderful gift. Middle schoolers can volunteer to read to a blind person or tutor kids their own age in reading and math. Teens can coach inner-city sports teams or build houses with Habitat for Humanity. Ideally, volunteering is a selfless act—you do it to help someone else, not because you’ll profit from it. But thinking way into the future, volunteer work looks very good on college and job applications.

Doing things as simple as serving meals at a local homeless shelter (or, when the kids are older, delivering meals on wheels) shows your children that you’re walking the walk instead of just talking the talk. Of course volunteering often gives kids some insight into just how lucky they are. It can also provide opportunities for them to learn about problem solving and cooperation, hone new skills, and discover talents, interests, and skills they never know they had. Perhaps most importantly, it teaches them to be more tolerant of people they might never come in contact otherwise—people from different cultures, ethnicities, education levels, and socio-economic status. At the end of a day (or even just a few hours) of volunteering, you’ll discover that your family has benefitted as much as your community has—though in very different ways.

As you consider which of the millions of opportunities to get your family involved in, here are a few ideas to keep in mind:

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Raising Amazing Adolescents and Teens + Job Hunting Success for Teens

[amazon asin=B0064XB8CG&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 1: Tom Sturges, author of Grow the Tree You Got.
Topic: 100 ideas for raising amazing adolescents and teenagers.
Issues: Learning to let go; the importance of making mistakes; punishing with kindness; what rivers can teach us about adolescents; seven ways to keep the peace.


[amazon asin=145057842X&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 2: Abby Kohut, author of Absolutely Abby’s 101 Job Search Secrets.
Topic: Success tips for teen job seekers and their parents.
Issues: Why you’re on a Never Ending Interview whether you know it or not; How to be resilient in the face of rejection; The importance of LinkedIn, Twitter & Facebook to your job search; How and why you should interview your next boss; How to use retro technology as part of your new strategy.

Loving the Teen You’ve Got + Job Hunting for Teens + When to Worry + Eating Disorders

[amazon asin=B0064XB8CG&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 1: Tom Sturges, author of Grow the Tree You Got.
Topic: 100 ideas for raising amazing adolescents and teenagers.
Issues: Learning to let go; the importance of making mistakes; punishing with kindness; what rivers can teach us about adolescents; seven ways to keep the peace.


[amazon asin=145057842X&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 2: Abby Kohut, author of Absolutely Abby’s 101 Job Search Secrets.
Topic: Success tips for teen job seekers and their parents.
Issues: Why you’re on a Never Ending Interview whether you know it or not; How to be resilient in the face of rejection; The importance of LinkedIn, Twitter & Facebook to your job search; How and why you should interview your next boss; How to use retro technology as part of your new strategy.


[amazon asin=0814473636&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 3: Lisa Boesky, author of When to Worry.
Topic: How to tell if your teen needs help and what to do about it.
Issues: How to spot the warning signs of serious problems like depression, cutting, bipolar disorder, and drug abuse; specific dos and don’ts for decreasing teen struggles and suffering in the family; how and where to get professional help.


[amazon asin=B003P9XDOS&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 4: Marcia Herrin, author of The Parent’s Guide to Eating Disorders.
Topic: Supporting self-esteem, healthy eating, and positive body image.
Issues: THow to broach the subject with your child; why blame doesn’t work; how to tell bad eating habits from dangerous behavior; the Maudsley Method: what it is and how parents can use it to treat their children.

Volunteering Is Good for the Heart–Really

volunteering reduces cardiovascular risk

volunteering reduces cardiovascular riskSomehow, when our parents told us that it’s better to give than to receive, we never really believed them. But according to a new study, they may have been telling the truth. The study, which tracked more than 100 Canadian 10th graders, found that those who did weekly volunteer work had lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease later in life than those who didn’t volunteer. Those risk factors included BMI (body mass index) and cholesterol levels, which researchers measured before and after the study.

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The Importance of Father Involvement in the Schools

My child’s school often sends out emails asking for moms to volunteer in the classroom or around the school. A lot of these communications talk about how important it is for mothers to be involved in their children’s education. As a father, I find this a little annoying, and I’m wondering whether you know of any evidence that dads’ involvement is important too?

There’s a mountain of research that shows a direct connection between parents’ involvement in their children’s education and their kids’ performance in school. In short, the more the parents are involved, the better the kids do. But in many schools (and in many families), the word "parents" really means "mom." That’s a big mistake. There are a number of benefit that are specifically related to father involvement. When dads are involved, their children.
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