How Do You Foster an Ethic of Service?

I was talking with my mom today about adopting Haitian orphans. For a long time, I’ve thought about adopting, but the question has been pushed to the forefront with the devastation that’s taken place in Haiti. It doesn’t seem like the right time for either of our households, but it got us onto the subject of having a giving personality.  I am somebody who immediately thinks, “How can I help?” My second reaction is typically more rational, as I weigh out the pros and cons, the financial cost and the impact it will have on my family. My husband immediately jumps to the rational without feeling the emotional tug . I’m wondering, as we are trying to raise compassionate and generous children, is this more of an indication of personality, or upbringing?

I was definitely raised with an ethic of service. I spoke recently with Maria Bailey about this at Bloglicious, but my mom was a teacher. She spent her days giving back and displayed the same behavior in other ways as well. I had long-time joke that all the women in my family (and extended family) were in service fields. They were almost entirely teachers and nurses. They worked hard and cared deeply about their work. I started volunteering in my early teens and never stopped. It’s an integral part of who I am as a person. I’m not sure if my husband had that same environment and I don’t think he’s done much, if any, volunteer work. On the other hand, he’s quick to help out if someone asks. He just doesn’t necessarily seek out ways to give back.

I’m sure I’m not the only parent out there who wants to raise children that care about other people beyond just their immediate friends and family. I’d love to hear how your thoughts on the subject and how your family fosters that in your kids.

3 Responses to How Do You Foster an Ethic of Service?

  1. […] Our Do Good Day “kits” came with all sorts of goodies, from t-shirts for our kids to thank you notes for partnering organizations. To help us in the mission they also contained 77 brand new dollar bills in sleeves that have tips for good works you can do for little or no money. Since my kids weren’t present on Do Good Day, and since handing out money in public venues is typically met with suspicion, I brought my dollars home to distribute in other ways. And I have been having fun with it… leaving a dollar in a restroom and on a chair in a waiting area. And talking with my kids about their own ideas. It’s just another opportunity for me to foster an ethic of service in my children. […]

  2. […] Our Do Good Day “kits” came with all sorts of goodies, from t-shirts for our kids to thank you notes for partnering organizations. To help us in the mission they also contained 77 brand new dollar bills in sleeves that have tips for good works you can do for little or no money. Since my kids weren’t present on Do Good Day, and since handing out money in public venues is typically met with suspicion, I brought my dollars home to distribute in other ways. And I have been having fun with it… leaving a dollar in a restroom and on a chair in a waiting area. And talking with my kids about their own ideas. It’s just another opportunity for me to foster an ethic of service in my children. […]

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