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When thinking about how volunteering can impact your social life as an adult, it’s important to consider how it might affect your relationships with people of all ages.

Take a step back with me for a moment to evaluate this idea.

How can your experience volunteering impact another person in such a way that it actually develops a real relationship between the two of you?  In order to understand how that can happen, we have to first take a look at loosely defined age groups and what they usually look for in relationships.

In this series, we provide a glimpse into what each age group is looking for in relationships and a few ways it is actually possible to develop strong bonds with them in a way that is profound to you.  Here’s a quick link out to all the ones we’ve published so far:

Ages Birth to 12

Kids of this age are essentially entirely dependent upon their parents or guardians to care for them.  They are rapidly growing in size, logic, and sociocultural understanding.  People in this age group tend to look for people who they can look up to, depend on for various instinctual needs, and rely on for them for building a foundation for interacting with other humans and living creatures.  Two ways you can develop authentic relationships with this age group in your experience volunteering are the following:

  • Someone in your immediate or extended family or even friend group is probably a child in this age group.  One idea is to bring him/her with you to volunteer, developing his/her understanding of compassion and what it looks like to show it to others.  This can connect you with this child immediately in an emotional way by establishing you as the authority figure on how caring for others is mutually beneficial.  This can leave you feeling empowered and needed by the child.
  • You can volunteer to serve this age group, as well.  For example, you can volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters to give them the social love and care they so desperately need, providing you with purpose and meaning, because these children so deeply benefit from your friendship.

Having children look up to you, play with you, listen to you, and simply be with you can be so heart warming even for adults who never wish to have children of their own.  It can challenge you to gain perspectives you do not hold yourself, encourage you to be more inclusive of younger generations, accept people who are different than you, and guide those who rely on people like you.

All of this can be had through simply volunteering and interacting with this age group in the process.

Come back soon for the next part of this blog series, called “How Volunteering Gives Adults Meaningful Relationships with Ages 13-18