Find out how helping others can help your family!
Service with a Smile
Volunteering as a family can be fun, but it can also be challenging.
Telling the kids that you are going to go work somewhere as a family may not be received with a “Yippee!” However, knowing the benefits may make the scheduling and needed “family pep talk” worth it.
Families that took a volunteering survey reported the benefits of volunteering as a family.
Benefits reported by parents:
• It bonded them to their children and created a team atmosphere.
• The children got along better and recognized that they need each other.
• The children focused on someone other than themselves.
Benefits reported by children:
• They gained appreciation and respect for their parents for how much they care for the community.
• Siblings were seen as role models.
• It made them feel good.
Other benefits of volunteering as a family include:
• The experience of sharing experiences and values.
• Having fun as a family.
• Individuals and families can learn about new resources (education, social support, family services and financial assistance).
• Children gain real-world experiences and learn about careers
• Parent-child bonding can promote healthy development
In addition to the benefits of volunteering together, a study reported that there are also benefits to the individual family members.
Depending on what the family is volunteering for, opportunities where the baby can tag along can benefit their psychosocial needs. Parents are able to give consistent care and continue building trust.
Who said these little ones couldn’t volunteer? Toddlers can develop sensorimotor skills and language through the different experiences and environments of volunteering.
Volunteering provides opportunities to look at different choices and develop decision- making skills. Children can help decide where the family will volunteer and/or how to do the project. They can begin learning about responsibility and cause and effect.
Volunteering as a family provides school-aged children a safe environment for making mistakes, practicing skills and eventually succeeding at different tasks and settings. Children experience encouragement from parents and older siblings. Having flexibility in volunteer activities can be motivating.
It is not a secret that adolescents are working on figuring out their identity, values, beliefs and how to accomplish tasks. Volunteering as a family provides teens with parental examples of values and civic responsibility. They are also exposed to different experiences, learn new skills and gain new perspectives.
Family volunteering for young adults helps to maintain and strengthen family networks. Relationships may even be mended through the experience. Volunteering together helps meet the need to have healthy relationships in their lives through opportunities as simple as talking, learning something new and bonding.
Volunteering with children provides adults with the opportunity to share their culture, beliefs and values. Volunteering for adults promotes a sense of caring, compassion and empathy. They feed their need to give back by sharing experiences, knowledge and other resources.
Volunteering brings meaning and purpose to the life of elderly adults. Volunteering with family helps their mental well-being.
1Littlepage, L., Obergfell, E., & Zanin, G. (2003). Family Volunteering: An exploratory study of the impact on families. Center for Urban Policy and the Environment. Retrieved from: http://policyinstitute.iu.edu/Uploads/ProjectFiles/31_03-C05_Family_Volunteering.pdf
2Lewton, A. R., Nievar, M. A. (2012). Strengthening Families Through Volunteerism: Integrating family volunteerism and family life education. Marriage & Family Review, 48, 7, 689-710. DOI: 10.1080/01494929.2012.700909
This article was written by Zuri Garcia, Extension Assistant Professor, Davis County Extension