I imagine there are times when you wish you could just have one meaningful conversation with your son or daughter.  The kind of conversation where you feel like you are making headway on the things that matter most in life.  I also imagine they are hard to come by sometimes.  It can feel like trying to catch lightning in a bottle, especially as they get older.

I just got back from spending a week in San Antonio serving with Blueprint Ministries.  Blueprint works with homeowners in the city to help make their homes “warmer, safer, drier”.  Notice that “aesthetically pleasing” wasn’t on the list, hence the middle school labor force we were allowed to bring.  Not that the kids didn’t work hard to make their work look great for these wonderful people.  We had 4 teams doing all kinds of projects – roofing, flooring, drywall, installing cabinets, and more!  It was an incredible trip and there were rewarded after 4 days of hard work with roller coasters at Six Flags!

One of my favorite things about this trip is the conversations that happen.  We are in someone’s home from a different part of town than most of us live.  Often the homeowner’s are there with us and the students get a chance to form relationships with them and see their daily life up close and personal.  Students get to see their disposition as well as their possessions.  Conversations about life, happiness, wealth, stuff, relationships, and family are discussed almost everyday!

If you are looking for an opportunity to have a significant conversation with your kids, volunteering together is a great way to accomplish this goal.  Here are three reasons volunteering together can lead to significant conversations:

  • In volunteering you are often put in a situation that is outside of your norm.  Contrast has a way of bringing about clarity.  One of the most common quotes on our trip was, “I just was able to see how much I have and how much I take for granted.  They didn’t have near the stuff I have, but they were so happy and full of joy.”  Conversations of gratitude and how to live with a thankful attitude happen naturally.  More importantly, conversations about what truly brings joy in life can bring great perspective to a teenager in the midst of the world of adolescence.
  • In volunteering you are allowed to do something outside of yourself and it often feels like you’ve stumbled upon the right way to live.  I hate to admit it, but much of my day is spent worrying about myself and my needs.  When we can get outside of this, often life opens up and you realize the joy found in giving yourself away.  Our speaker for the week said, “you were hardwired to give and love sacrificially.  It’s how God created you.  That’s why this feels so good.”  Not much of the world is telling your son or daughter to live this way.  Volunteering together gives you this opportunity.
  • In volunteering you are in it together and there is mutual discovery taking place.  Here’s the best part, most likely you are learning and processing life just as much as they are!  Your kids will have a front row seat watching you learn and grow and process and open yourself up.  What a gift!  Instead of being in a situation where you might be tempted to lecture from your vast knowledge and life understanding, you are put in a place where you can mutually discover what matters most in life and process your experience together!

I’m sure many of you have already experienced this, so please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Also, sign up to receive post via e-mail!  Just look to the right and you will receive new posts through your inbox!