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We have to celebrate, because this brother of yours …he was lost and has been found.  – Christian scripture, Luke 15:32


Today we used the a version of the Prodigal Son story from Christian scripture as a way of focusing on the ways we move away from and back into our homes. The story, “The Lost Son,” helped us illustrate that the love of family is constant whether you are at home or away. The story highlighted the importance of feeling welcomed home, and the importance of welcoming others.

Your child made a Welcome Home poster which you can display on your front door or in a room such as the kitchen where family members congregate when they come home. Or, save the Welcome Home poster for a special occasion if you know that someone in your family will be returning soon from an absence such as college, military service or even a work-related trip. The poster, then, can serve as a daily reminder that your family rejoices in each other’s presence, or can be a special celebration of the return of a loved one who is never forgotten while they are away.


In the story, “The Lost Son,” the younger son makes some bad mistakes, but is welcomed home anyway. This story provides a good introduction for talking with your child about how they feel when they break a rule. Are they sad? Embarrassed? Ashamed? How does your child imagine you feel when he/she breaks a rule? Angry? Hurt? Tell your child how you do feel, and that you still love him/her. Talk together about these questions: How do we fix things up when someone has broken a rule or made a bad choice? How do we get over our sad or hurt or angry feelings? In addition to reminding your child that no matter what mistakes they make you will always love them and always welcome them home, you might want to tell a story of some time when you made a bad choice, how you fixed things up afterward, and how you were welcomed home.


A Family Ritual

Does your family have a ritual for welcoming family members home? A ritual can be something as simple as a hug or a kiss. How do you greet your child when you pick him/her up from school or daycare? If most of the family is home when a parent returns from work, how is this person greeted? You may wish to create your own family ritual of welcome home, which might include:

Everyone getting up from what he/she is doing to greet the returning person.

A “sandwich hug” in which a returning person is squeezed between everyone who is already home.

Taking a few minutes at the point that everyone returns home to let each person share the best and the worst thing about their day.

A Family Game

Hide and seek is a fun way to practice being lost and found, and reminds children that their family will always come looking for them and be happy to see them again. It is also a way that very young children can experience the independence of being “on their own” in a safe environment, secure in the knowledge that they won’t be “lost” for very long.


The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown (HarperCollins, 1972 [1942]) is a classic story for young children about a young bunny whose mother promises to find him no matter what shape he should take.

You may wish to read another version of the parable of the Prodigal Son, and/or a sermon by UU minister Alison Cornish which explores the theme of the Prodigal Son story.

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