Your teen could be stressing out thinking about those less fortunate. You might not have ever heard the term “social justice” until your teenager came home spouting about how important it is, and now you want to make sure they aren’t spending all their time worrying about it. You might not be an expert on the subject, but you want to support your teen and make sure they are happy.So, here’s what you do to encourage their love for helping others, without letting their concern run their life.
Identify Ways to Help Others
Social justice can be defined as distributing the wealth, opportunities, and privileges in a society to all its members, so the first step in supporting your teen is finding ways to assist the less fortunate.
One way you and your teen can get involved with social justice is to visit a soup kitchen and volunteer your time to provide food for the homeless. Other establishments that assist the homeless include pantries where you can package goods for giving away, or shelters that provide a place to sleep. You could also help by volunteering to tutor adults and children that do not have access to education or other opportunities.
Some social justice programs are more demanding, and might be a good retreat for you and your teen to experience for a few days or weeks. One example is spending time building houses for poor communities.
Apart from volunteering, you can also donate your clothes and furniture to organizations that distribute goods to the less fortunate. Another possibility is giving charitable donations to organizations that work with impoverished or marginalized groups.
It’s important to tackle social justice issues by volunteering or donating with your teen so can show your support for something your teen is passionate about. It will mean a lot to your teen that you want to get involved and together you can make a larger impact.
Suggest Starting an Organization
Your teen might be worried about all the people who could use assistance, so you could suggest that your teen starts an organization or club to get more people together to help. This could be a school club or a local club in the neighborhood, and the benefit is that your teen will be able to reach more people, make a larger impact on the community, and learn valuable management skills when it comes to arranging volunteering and donation events. Plus, the developing teenage brain is greatly affected by peer influence, so it would be healthy for your teen to be surrounded by peers that want to make a difference.
Research Career Opportunities
You can support your teen’s passion for social justice while reducing their stress about the less fortunate by suggesting careers that work to serve those in need. Your teen could explore a variety of fields from business, to law, to art, as all of these fields can have a direct impact on helping the less fortunate. You could try asking the regular volunteers or owners of the different organizations you check out, what their advice for a career in social justice might be. It’s important for your teen to identify their goals in life, so you can help them find a career that makes them feel satisfied that they are making a difference. Plus, they will likely work harder in school if they know they are working towards a career that they are passionate about.
You’re by Their Side
And it makes all the difference for your teen. Someone who is passionate about social justice typically wants to get other people involved so they can all help others together. By showing an interest and finding ways to volunteer with your teen, you will have amazing bonding opportunities while making your teen feel like they are making a big difference. Try helping them uncover ways to expand their passion by suggesting clubs and careers they might be interested in. If they need help learning how to organize and execute their plan, there are a lot of great books they can read to help them accomplish their goals. They will learn so much as a result of your advice and feel less helpless in their mission to assist the world.
You might not be an expert on the subject, but you want to support your teen. Here’s how to encourage their passion for helping others.
Andy Earle is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers.