Double benefits to volunteering as a family

It is heartening to know that Singaporeans truly enjoy spending time with their families ("Singaporeans crave more time with family: Poll"; Monday).

One way families can spend quality and quantity time with one another is to volunteer together as a family, as the Tan family has done ("Family who volunteers together, stays together"; Sept 3).

There are many benefits to be reaped from helping others as a family.

First, family members build stronger bonds with one another, since volunteering together involves teamwork and communication. It also gives parents precious opportunities to interact meaningfully with their children and impart important values.

Giving back to society helps children develop values like compassion, perseverance and selflessness. As they watch their parents serve others, children learn to think beyond themselves and their own needs.

Research has shown that children who volunteer exhibit higher levels of self-esteem, motivation, interest in learning and moral responsibility.

They also gain valuable social and career skills, such as managing responsibilities and interpersonal communication.

If the volunteering experience is positive, it sends the message to our children that service unto others can be tough, but it can also be fun and fulfilling.

We know of one family who went to the streets to sell merchandise in order to raise funds, but they almost gave up within the first 15 minutes, had they not been chided by their child that they had committed to do good.

They persevered despite the numerous rejections encountered, and returned victorious - with all their merchandise sold.

To begin, families can first identify specific communities or causes they care about, like the elderly or disabled children.

There are various family-friendly volunteering opportunities that are easily searchable via the Internet.

In today's time-scarce society, encouraging families to volunteer together seems almost impossible.

However, families will need to make the active decision to do so. They would be killing two birds with one stone in volunteering as a family: Helping others while helping their own family thrive.

Samantha Chin (Miss)

Content Specialist

Focus on the Family Singapore

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2015, with the headline 'Double benefits to volunteering as a family'. Print Edition | Subscribe