(And 2 MAJOR MISTAKES to Avoid!)
Time limited? Don’t know what to do with your son? Want your weekend to count? Here are 10 easy service projects that BUILD your relationship with your son (or daughter) and take less than half a day!
- Visit someone who is lonely. It isn’t necessary to take any gifts, but just call ahead and see if they feel like a half-hour visit. You can stay longer, but just thirty-minutes will make a difference in someone’s day – especially someone who is feeling lonely or who lives alone. People in nursing homes and older widows often appreciate a visit like this. Prepare 5 -10 questions for your son to ask the person. For starters: Tell me about your life. Tell me about your best memory. What advice do you have for someone my age? What has changed since you were my age? If you had one wish, what would it be?
- Mow an elderly person’s lawn together. Often, people who are experiencing difficulties need help with things they usually handle themselves. A wedding, a funeral, a family reunion, a graduation, an illness are all occasions when people want their lawn to look good but may have too many things going on to take care of it themselves. Call and ask permission to help with some of those lawn chores like mowing or leaf raking, and be sure to let them know it is a benefit to YOU since it is giving you and your son some special time together. They too can enjoy knowing they are helping someone else.
- Take a fatherless boy on a half-day outing. You and your son can create a great memory by including a fatherless boy in a half-day outing. A trip to the waterpark, or zoo, or a professional sporting event would be great, but it can also be something less expensive like a picnic or hike at a state or national park nearby, a few hours together in a batting cage, putt-putt, or a fun Frisbee golf competition between the three of you.
- Wash a busy family’s van. Young families are often so busy they seldom have the time or the energy to clean up their vehicle. Single mothers are especially stretched to wash their vehicle. Call ahead and offer to help relieve some of their stress and give you and your son some extra time together. They need to know this is as much (or more) for you and your son as it is for them.
- Volunteer at a charity. Non-Profit Organizations and charities often need extra hands. A lot of what they need requires no special skills; a willing heart is about all that’s required. So, search for such organizations in your area and call to see if they can use two willing volunteers for a few hours. They’re going to love you!
- Enter a fund-raiser event together. Depending on your interests and equipment, you may be able to play in a 3-on-3 charity basketball event, walk a 5K together, enter a fishing tournament, or a golf tournament. What a fun way to help out together!
- Help a Local Political Candidate. Almost every year or two someone somewhere is running for some kind of public office. If you see one you like, call and offer for you and your boy to collect campaign signs after the vote. These folks often need help gathering their signage. Practice good citizenship and pick up some in the area where you live. It’s a great occasion to introduce your son to the way our nation’s governance is designed.
- Share fresh Veggies. Everyone loves garden fresh food. Why not visit a local You-Pick-It farm and pick enough to share with another family? Berry and Fruit farms are always favorites. Strawberries ripen in early Spring. Some blueberry varieties ripen in early June. Apples are late summer. There are also fall fruiting trees. Eat all you want, but also take some to your neighbor and make a friend.
- Help Mom with the House. Yep! This one is a close as your kitchen and living room. Ask Mom for a list of small things she’d like done around the house that you and Junior can knock out in a couple hours. Choose one of two and knock them out for her. She’ll love you guys and you son will be experiencing the delight of a home with a happy wife. You guys might even find you get a special supper out of it!
- Pray with someone. If people are ever blessed, it’s when someone prays for them. The spiritual element of life is often overlooked, omitted, or not considered, though it is as important as any other aspect of life. Don’t be bashful, but do ask for permission. Whether someone is struggling (sick, in financial trouble, recently divorced) or rejoicing (just had a baby, going on a mission trip, starting a new job) the offer to pray WITH them is usually appreciated. If they decline your offer, no problem. Like with any gift, if it isn’t valued, it isn’t a gift – don’t force it.
The 2 Major Project Mistakes that HARM
Your Relationship with Your Son!
A great day can do great HARM if you aren’t paying attention! Boys will enjoy a day with Dad, but not if he is demanding or focusing on the wrong thing. Keeping the relationship with your son as the priority will set the right boundaries and tenor of the day. Here are two ways dads most often lose this critical focus.
- A Project Too Large — Don’t bite off more than you can chew in an hour or half a day. (Keep it simple. A project that’s too large will put pressure into the situation. These projects aren’t about pressure, but about parenting through participation with your son.) Schedule only what you can EASILY do in the time allotted.
- The Project Takes Priority — Don’t get caught up in the completion of the project and step all over your kid! If the pressure of the project causes you to become angry, yell at, or belittle your son, it’s probably too much for the time you have. Choose to either divide the project into two weekends, or choose another project; otherwise, your boy may never want to go on another one with you! Could you blame him? Be kind. Leave room to talk and allow him to participate. Bottom line: it’s about you and your boy, not the project. Simple and a good memory is better than something more elaborate that drives a wedge between you.
Time is limited and there are so many demands on your time, but nothing yields the dividends or rewards like the memories and closeness that a few hours helping others will bring to you and your son for a lifetime. Time isn’t made; choices are made. Chose well and make time for your son this month.