Teaching Grandkids the Importance of Service

My mother is a saint – I learned at a very early age the importance of service and making sure that others are taken care of.  I remember every year without fail at Christmas we took on a Sub for Santa family. We sewed and cooked and put together a box of gifts & goodies for the family. Then every Christmas eve we dropped the box on the door step and the quickest of us rang the bell and ran.

My mother wanted us to learn early to recognize needs, to share and to serve. We grew up knowing that just how you live. I’m so grateful for that example.  I also see a huge opportunity to teach my grandkids the same lessons I learned. Kids take to service so naturally.

Service starts at home

You don’t have to go down the street, to a big city or around the world to serve – although none of that is a bad idea. It’s easy to teach grandkids to serve right in their own home.  You also can show them by example just how easy it is to serve.

Grandpa can serve grandma & the family by:

  • Helping out at Sunday dinner
  • Letting the kids and grandkids see him wait to be seated until grandma sits down
  • Play with and help with the grandkids when they are there
  • Continuing to court grandma even after all these years
  • Learning about and showing interest in what the kids and grandkids do
  • Listening to and discussing other family members ideas and concerns.
  • Showing love for the family

Grandma can serve grandpa & the family by:

  • Keeping a beautiful home
  • Making delicious meals
  • Continuing to court grandpa
  • Listening to other family members with interest;
  • loving grandpa.

As your grandchildren see your example serving them and one another, they learn the importance of service and begin to understand that it doesn’t have to be huge things – but small things make a difference.

 

Grandchildren can serve their parents, brothers, and sisters and grandparents:

  • Doing what you say you’ll do
  • being kind to your parents and siblings
  • being responsible with those chores that you are supposed to do
  • showing love to your siblings and parents.

It really is that easy – just treating each other like we would like to be treated.

For young children, the word help may be easier to understand than serve. Children can realize that we all need help sometimes. Even grandmas and grandpas need help from one another and from their children and grandchildren.

For example cleaning up toys and messes after playing at grandmas is a HUGE act of service in the eyes of grandma and grandpa.

By talking with children from the earliest ages about the value of helping, sharing, and serving, we are cultivating an attitude about service that shapes the way they view the world.

The other great thing about serving in the family setting is that it gives children a strong sense of belonging. For instance, older children can help younger ones learn skills such as bicycle riding, catching a ball, counting, playing games, or working at hobbies. They can help with school studies and read stories to them. All of these are acts of service. I think this is something we forget sometimes.

When a child is busy helping, he is less inclined to be self-centered. Teaching our children “to love one another, and to serve one another” can be an antidote for fighting and quarreling.

I love this quote by Spencer Kimball “When we are engaged in the service of our fellowmen, not only do our deeds assist them, but we put our own problems in a fresher perspective. … There is less time to be concerned with ourselves”. Which is exactly what service does – it helps us get outside ourselves and help others.

Service Ideas to do with your Grands

Family in the neighborhood

Recently one of my neighbors began fostering 5 children from the same family – she has 4 daughters of her own. She’s amazing! Our neighborhood decided to help out by making peanut butter and jam sandwiches that she could freeze in their outside freezer so they can get a snack whenever they want.

Lunches for the homeless

Our church group twice a year will get together and make a couple hundred sack lunches and to an area of town in a large city about 45 minutes away and give them out to the people they encounter on the streets. During the winter months they will also gather gloves, coats and blankets and bring with them too to hand out.

Serving a grouchy neighbor

A few years ago my niece lived in an apartment building above a grouchy old man. He was constantly complaining to the landlord about them. One day she decided to make him some cookies and talk to him about his life. Everything changed from that moment on – serving someone that seams unhappy may just be all that is needed to help that person feel loved.

I’ve learned through the years that God does watch over us by usually sending someone else to meet the needs that we are praying for.

Our service need not wait until we devise some elaborate means or project. Often the simplest, most obvious thing is what is needed most, like a thought expressed by telephone or a note in the mail.

Donate Old Toys

You could also talk to the grandkids about going through your toy boxes and put together some old toys that may be looking for a new home to go to. Have them go with you to take them either to a family that could use them or to goodwill.

Take a dog for a walk

If your grandkids like animals you can also suggest they take someones dog for a walk who has recently had surgery. I think it goes without saying that this dog needs to be kid friendly:)

Yard work

Having your grandkids help you mow or work in an elderly persons yard. Let them learn the love of working while serving.

Pick up Trash

Taking a walk in the neighborhood or go to a park and pick up trash that is laying around. You can even see who can pick up the most.

Benefits of service

Teach your grandkids the benefits of service.  Tie their service to something meaningful

  • Service connects you to others
  • Service is good for your mind and body
  • Service can advance your career
  • Service brings fun and fulfillment to your life

Teaching and serving with your grandkids can be fun and delightful. The memories will be priceless —- I promise.