Pay It Forward

payforwardWe’ve spent some time this month talking about strengthening the relationships we have with our families—our spouses and our children. One relationship that isn’t talked about as often is the relationship we have with our community. In many ways, this relationship needs just as much attention as the one we continue to grow and foster with our families. Why? Because it defines who we are in the world.

Alfred Adler said, “Every human being strives for significance, but people always make mistakes if they do not recognize that their significance lies in their contribution to the lives of others.” Adler realized that it was all too easy for folks to get wrapped up in their own lives, their own day-to-day, only to find themselves feeling lost or without a purpose.

I know that we all have days when we wake up and say to ourselves, “What am I doing here, really?” One way to answer that question, on a small scale, is to find something that you believe in and support it. Maybe you want to help your local community and you do that through volunteering at a food shelf or soup kitchen. Maybe you are really crafty, so you make hats and mittens for the homeless. Or maybe you are more globally centered, so you donate money for mosquito nets in Africa, or you raise money to help build schools for girls in the Middle East.

Whatever your passion is, there is a need somewhere in the world for you. And most of you will find that in filling that need, you also fill yourself (and your children) with a sense of purpose and significance. A friend of mine recently helped her five-year-old daughter raise money for a charity that the family believed in. When they were done and my friend asked her daughter how she felt about what she had done, the little girl replied, “I feel like the whole world is giving me a big thumbs-up.” I can’t imagine feeling much better than that.

All of us at Parenting On Track™ want to know what you do to make a difference in your community. Please use the comment section here at the blog to inspire us, and our readers, with some examples of the things you and your family are involved in.

Quote from “What Life Could Mean To You” by Alfred Adler, pg. 5.

5 thoughts on “Pay It Forward

  1. This post is making me think maybe I should do a bit more, though finding the time is always a struggle. My children are young, I work two days a week, and I find it hard to focus on much else other then my children, my house, my yard and my job. What I do focus on though is food. At this point in my life I think it is of utmost importance that we inspire and support our local food system. I am currently on the board of the Intervale Community Farm. Though I don’t raise money for the Intervale, or host big celebrations (though I may be a part of them) for local food, I eat it. What could be better then buying, growing, eating healthy, organic and local food for your children and your community?

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. Personally, I can’t think of anything better then buying, growing and eating organic, local food. I visit our farmers market every Saturday and find myself looking forward to the excursion on Tuesday.

  3. Last spring my neighbor passed out cups to collect money in for Hiefer international, a non profit organization that helps fight poverty. My 5 year old daughter after learning what Heifer was about she went and collected all her coins and put them in the cup (“all the silver ones Mama not the brown ones” ) We were able to raise enough money to buy a goat for a needy family. After a trip to Ecuador through Heifer international my neighbor showed Zoey a picture of a family with a little girl smiling holding on tight to a baby goat. That was all it took for her to connect to this. Her eyes lit up and she asked “did we buy that goat?” Zoey now has a cup on the counter that she has taped a piece of paper to that says Heifer, and she puts money in it on her own. Not just coins any more but dollars!

  4. Hi. Love this. My kids found the Heifer project in much the same way. They have been giving to the Heifer project ever since. It is amazing what one experience, one “ah ha” will do to set a child on a course of “paying it forward”. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Vicki

  5. I own some forestland jointly with other families in our community. Many of us work cooperatively to cut our firewood there. For the past several years, we’ve cut an extra cord or two to donate to a family in need in our community (a lot of folks heat with a woodstove in our area). We’ve also sold a couple of cords to raise money for land conservation efforts in our area. For the last couple of years, I’ve had my 8 year old son helping out with the work. His little sister will probably get into the act next time we get to work on this.

    It would be nice for him to see some of the effects of his efforts. However, most of our deliveries are anonymous, so he doesn’t get to see directly how his efforts have affected someone, but he’s starting to pick up on the concepts. A side benefit is he’s gotten more interested in getting out in the woods and learning about what goes on out there.

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