A mother of two teenagers shares about her journey on how volunteering helped her to connect with her children and shaped their values and experiences.

Do you know that every one of us have a superpower? Sometimes we don’t know it so we don’t activate it. We all have the superpower that can make others more joyful and fulfilling. The best thing is that the superpower does not only benefit others, but also ourselves – it sparks joy in ourselves and builds within us a gratitude of life.

I learnt the power of giving from my late parents.

They were always hospitable, even to strangers. I remember once when my parents were in the airport when they found out that there were a few stranded young people from Switzerland. I can’t remember the details, but I remember that they invited the young people to stay at our home, and how grateful the young people were. My father kept in touch with them even as they went back to Switzerland, and years later when I took my graduation trip with a small group friends to Switzerland, one of the young men took really good care of us there.

Over the years, I have learnt that giving often brings me more joy than receiving.

Carol and her children giving their time on the second day of Lunar New Year to chat with those who didn’t get to visit their family for reunion.

Often I think that I am giving my time, talents, treasures or efforts, but actually I learn so much more about myself and others in the process. Last year I thought I was helping children from a needy neighbourhood through giving them leadership training pro-bono. But what I learnt from them – their resilience, their wisdom beyond their years, their hopes for their future – was priceless. They taught me to appreciate life, and to be intentional with raising my children.

My husband and I have also opened up our homes to overseas students and guests, and through that process introduced our two children to opportunities to live with and interact with people from different countries and cultures. We start off as strangers, but often grow to become friends. Once we had a Japanese family with a toddler in our home, and our whole family was thrilled to have a young child who brought so much joy to our lives. Another time we had a group of Korean children staying over. Yet another time we had Vietnamese children. Over the years we have kept in touch with our overseas friends and our friendship have deepened; I often think that while I may not be able to afford to bring the whole family around the world, instead the world comes to me – in my home!

Giving is in my family’s DNA.

Carol’s family with the Japanese family that stayed in their home for 7 months while the couple were studying in Bible school.

I am very thankful that my children’s school built that into the school values too, so whatever values and practices at home are further reinforced in school. My husband volunteers as a photographer for church events and I contribute in different capacities to strengthen families. But while we give of our time to others, we remember that we need to first set aside time for each other and our children; it is not helpful to give so much of ourselves to “outsiders” and give only the leftovers to each other and our children.

By giving together as a family, I find that our bond strengthens, we grow closer together, and appreciate our lives together.

My children have grown to give of themselves to others too as a lifestyle e.g. my elder daughter helps babysit our friends kids, and plays the guitar for her school and my younger one is under training to also start volunteering as a photographer like her dad. Beyond the physical world, we also strive to do the same online – we remind ourselves that we can do our part to create a better world through our social media posts, or photos we take or videos that we produce.

So I am thankful for the superpower of giving, which may be a misnomer since it is not really giving, when we can receive so much more.

Questions to ponder upon.

Would you activate your superpower today? Who and how can you contribute your gifts and talents to? How can you add value to others with your finances and time? Together, we can build a nation of givers who have a heart of gratitude and live with joy.

This article is contributed by Carol Loi. She’s a wife to one husband and mother to two teenagers. She is also a Digital Literacy Educator, Parent Coach, Fellow of Centre for Media Literacy & a John Maxwell Certified Coach & Speaker committed to developing leaders and communicators.