Pestering parents? Here are five ways to get your folks on-board with your volunteering plans

Some parents may not be enlightened enough to see why flying half way round the world to go and work for free in a foreign country is a good idea. If you’re the child of parents like this, read on as we share the top five complaints of pestering parents and how to deal with them:

1. “It’s a waste of money!”

Your parents spent a lot of time, love and money raising you so they will naturally be concerned that you spend your cash as wisely as possible. It’s important to reassure them that a) volunteering can be done without breaking the bank, and b) it is an investment in your personal development that will pave the way for a future of such magnificence that they will one day shed tears of pride on a regular basis (feel free to adapt this second point to suit your personal requirements).

2. “Don’t go anywhere ‘dangerous’!”

Parents can be very susceptible to the modern-day 24-hour news cycle. After all, when they were young, news came in bite-size chunks just one or two times a day. The 21st Century bombardment of news – usually bad news – leads some parents to believe that any country beyond the borders of their own is a lawless jungle of crime, exotic diseases, and other perils beyond imagining. Don’t let your parents cover you in cotton wool; explain that many travellers safely navigate the country you’re planning on visiting every year. You can see the latest advice from your home government on safe travel in the country in question, and reassure your parents that you will take all the necessary precautions for a safe trip. For a start, make sure you have all the necessary vaccinations and carefully research the best travel insurance!

3. “You should be focussing on your career”

If you’ve just finished school or university and you’re now facing the question of, ‘what next?’, some parents might think now is the time to get your head down and find your footing on the career ladder. Going abroad to volunteer might seem like you’re putting off the inevitable, but it is actually an invaluable time to think about your future. If you don’t know what you want to do, it’s a chance to try out different things and speak to incredible people you wouldn’t meet back home. If you know what you want to do with your career, why not try to volunteer in a related area? Make sure your parents know that you will be treating the experience as an important step in journey to personal fulfilment.

4. “They’re just cowboys, some of these NGOs”

Some of the more ‘hard-core’ pesterers might have the idea that NGOs are just taking money from naïve tourists so they can put their feet up and sip piña coladas. To put the minds of your worrisome folks at ease, show them that you’ve done a thorough check on the NGO you want to work with, and you know what they spend their money on.

5. “You will fall in love and won’t come back”

This is a tricky one because you never know when you might meet the person of your dreams. In fact, HOOP has already had three marriages between volunteers, with a fourth one on the way! As much as your parents want you to be happy, they prefer you to be happy and close to home. The best thing to do is reassure them that there is absolutely zero chance of you permanently moving abroad for a guy/girl. Then if it does happen, win your parents over with a passionate speech about how you met the perfect person for you and if you only had their blessing you’d be the happiest person in the universe. Visit on special occasions and Skype regularly.

We hope you can use these tips to help your parents understand why volunteering abroad is a great idea! If you want to volunteer with HOOP, send us an email at!

Words by Tom Hornbrook

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