It is fantastic to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. by celebrating the service your children do for the family. In January of each year, attention turns to thoughts of Martin Luther King Jr and community service. Conversations take place in real life and in cyberspace about the importance of being of service to others. Mothers happily share stories of the wonderful service projects their children create or complete.
This year, we are teaching my children the importance of service by explaining that service should be a way of life. We want our children to realize that service should be something they do every day and not something they do just for special occasions or because it is a certain time of year. We have been stressing this idea specifically with our twelve-year-old son.
Once upon a time, Peyton talked about wanting to be paid for each nice thing he did in the family. Over time, as we have talked to him about community, family and shared visions, his thinking has changed. Now Peyton understands that he has responsibilities as a member of our family to work towards making our little community, our home a better place for us all.
It didn’t happen overnight. It didn’t happen after just one or two conversations. Instead, it took place gradually as a result of conversations, lessons taught while watching movies and praises for things well done. My son, my Golden One has become a young man I am proud to call my own.
As a service to our family he does the following:
- holds his sisters’ hands when we walk to the library for homework each afternoon
- takes out the trash each evening
- pushes the shopping cart home from the market
- let’s his little sisters pick first on family movie night
- shows genuine concern for the feelings and dreams of his family members
- checks on his sister who is away at college
Now all these things may not sound much to a person whose service project is building a school in Haiti or who works at a soup kitchen once a year. But in our family, in our world, the service that my son provides is a treasure beyond measure. Because service is a lifestyle for him, not a project he will be a good man. He will be a good husband to his wife and a good father to his children. Those our things our family can celebrate all year-long.
It is fantastic to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King by celebrating the service your children do for the family. So, the question for you this fantastic day is how do your family members serve one another?
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When my husband and son discovered the Google Chrome game Little Alchemy, our family spent an entire weekend combining fire, water, earth and other elements to create things. It was so much fun, pure simple fun. We learned a lot about science, how the world works and even how each family member thinks. For example, my son is logical and he thought about the combinations he would make. I am determined and pragmatic. As a result, I spent my time trying every possible combination. Each family member, even the twins who were five at the time, was able to come up with a combination that no one else thought of, it was great.
Human beings are social creatures who need to be loved, cared for and appreciated for who they are. When a person is the recipient of kind words, true words, genuine compliments, that person cannot help but feel good. I know many people who go days, weeks, months and in some cases years without ever receiving a true and kind compliments from another person. My children are blessed and fortunate because they will grow up knowing that they are loved and worthy of good and kind words.
It is wonderful to have an attitude of optimism while out of work and use that optimism to improve family relationships. It is important for us to work on a regular basis in order to earn income. In most cases, our family members understand that we must step away from family obligations in order to earn money. Sometimes, we must spend long hours at work and sacrifice time with family in order to keep our jobs. Occasionally, this sacrifice leads to bad feelings or even resentment in families. Most people have heard children complain about parents who are at work all the time and have no time to for them. This is a sad and unfortunate reality.
Pick an activity that you like or try something you have never done before. It doesn’t matter. The important part is for you to take time and do things as a family. Start having a special and sacred family time for your family. Do it for a period of two to three months. Then step back and see how things have improved with your family. Look to see if your family members have begun to look forward to family time and even enjoy it.