Our culture puts a lot of emphasis on work-readiness, so I’m quite surprised there isn’t more emphasis on teens getting a volunteer job. In fact, when I was looking for volunteer opportunities for Care Bear, I had a hard time finding anything when searching on Google. I’ve since come across fliers at the library (gotta love the library!) for volunteer jobs and training camps, and Care Bear now has her first volunteer job at the library helping kids participate in the summer reading program!
So, why should a teen get a volunteer job?
Learn the value of work, without the paycheck
Money can muddle the true value of things, including the value of a hard day’s work. Teens can learn what it feels like to know they brought benefit somewhere, without the paycheck coloring their excitement. We should be proud of doing a job well done for its sake alone. On a side note, I think this can also go for chores at home. I believe that some chores should go unpaid as an expectation within the home that everyone cooperates to keep the home running smoothly. We pay Care Bear for chores that are much harder, and out of the ordinary, but otherwise it’s expected that she will complete chores on a regular basis.
How many people go into college not sure of what they want to do? Volunteering can help teens hone their interests and talents, and also help them learn what areas they don’t like. Some jobs might seem like a good fit until they actually perform the work, and they find it is not a good fit. For instance, Care Bear wanted to be a game designer for a while, but knowing her, I didn’t think she’d actually like the day to day work. Volunteering or job shadowing can bring some things to light.
Break up the summer
Summer break tends to get long without activities to keep kids busy. Camps and events are a great way to spend summer, but instilling some responsible time can prove beneficial. As our kids get older, we all worry about them falling into trouble (or jumping right in!). Many times boredom can lead to experimenting, and not always things that are good.
Too often we look at those who have more than us, wishing we had something better. We are told in a hadith:
Sahih Muslim : Book 42 “Kitab Al-Zuhd wa Al-Raqa’iq”, Number 7068
Abu Huraira (Radi Allah Anhu) reported that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said:
“When one of you looks at one who stands at a higher level than you in regard to wealth and physical structure he should also see one who stands at a lower level than you in regard to these things (in which he stands) at a hi-her level (as compared to him).”
We shouldn’t be looking down on those who have less than us, but rather appreciating our comforts and situation. If you are able to read this online, then there are definitely people in more dire situations, and you should appreciate the gifts Allah has given to you.
Set a good example for younger siblings
So often, younger siblings look up to their older siblings as role models. Just like we should be teaching by example as adults, a teen child can teach by example also. In sha Allah it is a positive example! Volunteering is a real job, whether there’s a paycheck or not. When a young child sees their older sibling taking part in such activities, it can encourage the child to live up to their teen sibling.