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Give a Little: Family Volunteering

Give a Slight Push

If all else fails, gently strong-arm them—kids don't know what's best. "Teens can't understand the benefits of service until they've experienced them," says Jim Youniss, professor and developmental psychologist at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He once took students to an impoverished area, to help repair houses. "They had no idea people lived in that kind of poverty," he says. "It woke them up."

Remember, you're ultimately the boss. It's okay to make a unilateral decision about what the family is going to do, say, Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to noon. Then temper it by adding, "We'll try this once. If we don't like it, we won't go back."