Having our children strive to be productive, generous and aware members of society has always been something we, as their parents, strive for. I believe very strongly that this is something we lead by example as well as, work side-by-side with them to achieve. I used to worry about how we would make this happen, and then I realized they have been doing it along with us all this time. Tonight was a night I was reminded that we have been doing alright. And it made me want to do more with them.
For an assignment for Scouts, Ethan was to nominate someone he thought was worthy of a citizenship award. As I read my 10 year old's reasons for nominating this special person I realized that he really gets it. Now, his first choice was an Uncle who wasn't eligible because he lived out of state. Ethan choose him because he "serves his community everyday and is a good police officer and gets all the bad guys when they are doing bad things." We are so fortunate to be surrounded with so many that give of themselves every day to benefit others. These are people in the community who put other's needs before their own, often putting themselves in danger. These are the people my children look up to, and I hope, strive to be like.
Ethan, needs these people in his life. We all do. We all need to be reminded that giving of ourselves has bountiful rewards. But my impulsive son truly needs these constant reminders of towing the line, being responsible and making the right choice. He needs these people to help mold him into the amazing man he will surely someday be. My little man is the most compassionate child I have ever know in all my life. He is going to make a great volunteer. Along with my other two. While Emily may not be comfortable with people, she has an amazing gift with animals. She will bring comfort and compassion to God's furry gifts to us. And my little Alec, no matter what he chooses, he will bring comfort with his smile. Yes, all my children will bring something to society's table.
Volunteer organizations are suffering greatly. Membership is down and those who have been in it for so long, are burned out. No matter what the organization you are in there are always going to be the people who give all they can. And unfortunately, there are those in it for all the wrong reasons. It is entirely understandable why memberships are suffering. Just look at our society. Look at our lives. We are constantly on the run. Work, school,kids, house, meals, homework, social obligations, chores, upkeep....it is INSANE! We have 3 children with a combined average of 170 minutes of homework. If they all need help...ugh! This doesn't include the minutes all are supposed to read each night. Violin, piano, scouts. Practice 20, read 30, study. I feel terrible, but last week when I read the note that came home from religion saying that they wanted the kids 10 extra minutes several times this season for a special mass...I was irritated. Not just at our parish, just at (what seems like)everyone asking for 10 minutes here and there and wondering where and how! We strictly limit our kids to one activity each for their own sanity, as well as, ours. As it is, Ethan struggles and will occasionally melt down because he feels overwhelmed. He is 10.
Despite all this, I hope we are able to instill in the kids that giving something of yourself is truly an obligation. When I think about the reasons I love to camp, there is one that stands out from all the other reasons. The people you meet. They are fun loving people always looking and happy to lend a hand. Nobody is afraid to ask and everyone is falling over themselves to offer. This is the way the world is meant to run. We are all in this together. Somehow, a false and terribly wrong sense of entitlement has come over...too many. I don't want to blame a generation. I'd rather enlighten and somehow ignite a sense of duty.
Our children will and should grow up knowing that there are basic expectations of them. This is a gift to them. I hope that they live lives where, at the very least, their basic needs are met...through their very own hard work driven by their sense of responsibility to themselves, their families and society. And should anything ever happen and they need to rely on assistance to get them through it, I want them to be able to take it without shame and a good amount of pride. Because, I believe, that sense of pride is what will keep the "entitlement" bug away.
I will also expect that our children grow up knowing that they have an obligation to society. To contribute. To help. To engage. Somehow. Even if only for a moment. To give freely and without expectation is one of the greatest joys. Something that seems to be lost on many...but not all. As several little Cub Scouts brought to light today.