Sunday, September 18, 2016

Is volunteerism a thing of the past?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My son is now 21 and hasn’t gone on to college or found a job, but still lives at home.

We have said we would support him if he’s in school or going to college, like we did for his sister.

He ignores this fact until we bring it up, and then he gets angry. Then he acts like nothing happened and he’s laughing and joking around in a few minutes.

Our son will still go with us to church sometimes, but he never volunteers for anything.

His older sister graduated from college at age 20 and she’s working at an amazing job. She’s involved with many organizations as a volunteer.

Our daughter has always volunteered for just about anything since she was old enough to offer to help. She was a Girl Scout, a leader at church, and she volunteered for Habitat for Humanity. She got a full scholarship to college.

Being a strong volunteer is probably what got her scholarships, friends, jobs, and opportunities.

My son doesn’t want to work and doesn’t want to volunteer, either.

It seems like most kids don’t volunteer very much anymore. Our generation and family have always volunteered and we are proud of it.

Volunteer generation

Dear Volunteers,

First, we’d like to thank you for all your service as dedicated volunteers. Our world needs volunteers like you.

There seem to be a few problems here that require attention:

    Comparing children is never a good idea and you need to find a way to value your son as much as your daughter

    Your son needs acceptable boundaries that you stick with so he can make the leap into real adulthood

    Forcing someone to volunteer is futile and sort of defeats the purpose

Comparing children, especially labeling one as the “Good One” who volunteers and the other who doesn’t volunteer as the “Bad One,” does nothing but pit your children against each other.

The “Good One” will fear making mistakes with such a big label to carry on her shoulders.

The “Bad One” will stop trying because he’s already lost. It’s a simple matter of giving up before failing.

You need to stick with boundaries – your son needs to be in college or have a job in order to live at home. This is your rule to enforce.

When you allow your son to ignore your boundaries, he’ll keep testing you as a child does.

As soon as you compared your children, you lost the meaning of volunteering. You can’t manipulate, entice, or coerce your son into giving his time and talents. He must realize on his own the value of helping others.

And you’ll be happy to know that recent studies have shown the following:

— An estimated 15.5 million youth in the United States –or 55 percent of youth ages 12 to 18– participate in volunteer activities.

— Youth contribute more than 1.3 billion hours of community service each year.

Love your son and daughter equally regardless of what they do. Be a good example and both of them will most likely follow you because they see and feel your goodness.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

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