I had a conversation this week with a friend and it set me onto a pondering path (I seem to be pondering a lot these days).
We were having a conversation about the youth volunteering with Vacation Bible School, for which the church was very grateful (in fact I am quite sure the five night program could not have happened without their help). As it turned out, they (the youth) got together every night afterwards to do something “fun”. Some activities were spontaneous, some were planned by adults.
My friend and I approached the situation from opposite sides. I said I thought they shouldn’t do something every night, they should wait and do something big the last night as a celebration of sorts. My friend felt the kids deserved a reward for the giving of their time each night.
My opinion comes from 1) I can’t afford it, 2) I think parents should say no sometimes, 3) I worry that kids who don’t get to go feel left out and the group that does go moves on without them and a gulf is built, 4) I’m probably a stick in the mud, and 5) if you go out all the time – how special is it? (By the way, few of these kids can drive yet so it’s not like they can truly do this on their own.)
I know my friend’s actions come from a pure heart, and that she just wants to give her children great memories of growing up and strong friendships. But as I said, this conversation set me to pondering.
What happens when children/kids/teens/adults are regularly “rewarded” for service? How often can you do that before the person in question comes to expect some sort of reward for contributing to whatever group they are a part of? I am certainly not saying that people should never be rewarded – but perhaps it would be better if it happened a little less often? What if our kids didn’t get gold stars every time they turned in a paper? Or if we didn’t give our kids a treat at the end of the week just because they kept their room clean? What if we just expected people to contribute to the needs of their community because it was their community?
I do seem to ponder a lot . . . I’m sure my kids will grow up to have plenty to talk to a therapist about!