Yesterday my children did their first volunteering job. We went to Monika’s Doggie Rescues and took Pickles for a walk. Like the other 150 dogs in the centre, Pickles has a story of abuse, neglect or violence. As we strolled the rural streets of Ingleside, Pickles barked and lunged at every other dog that crossed our way. The volunteer at the shelter said that Pickles probably had never seen another dog until he was rescued—he forgot how to be a dog. Apart from not being comfortable with others of his kind, he was a happy dog and Lucas and Thomas loved playing with him.
I must say, our volunteering work yesterday was not a huge effort for my kids—they are natural animal lovers—but it was a fun way to show them the importance of giving back to the community. Our visit to the dog shelter exposed them to a few realities they aren’t used to:
- Suffering is part of life – they are safely bubble wrapped by caring parents.
- Making do with very limited resources – mum’s bank never seems to run out of funds.
- Only selflessness can make the world a better place – no kids, Pokemon is not saving the planet.
I don’t think my kids are the only ones out of touch with the realities of life—most children today are too sheltered and have too much—they don’t understand that the privileges they have are not equally available to others just a few postcodes away. And it’s not their fault. Most of us parents spend a good deal of time ensuring our children have great educational experiences, wonderful holidays, eat organic food, are creatively stimulated. Unfortunately, we don’t put as much energy in making sure they understand that not everyone is as fortunate as them and that those with privileges have a duty of care.
That’s probably because we aren’t as socially engaged as we should. It’s easier to get busy worrying about achieving the best possible outcomes for ourselves and our children than getting involved with the problems of our society. But there is need all around us and we are all part of the solution. It’s never too early or too late to start.
I did volunteering work as a teenager when I was a girls guide. Since then, there has been university, career, kids. But I guess the seed was planted and I feel it’s time to roll up my sleeves again. I’m making giving back part of my parenting agenda. We are definitely going to visit Pickles and his friends again.