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Taking It Home, Session 10: Our Words Matter

In "Love Surrounds Us," a Tapestry of Faith program

You must leave righteous ways behind, not to speak of unrighteous ways. — Buddha

IN TODAY'S SESSION... participants learned about the Unitarian Universalist fifth Principle, which says we are free to search for what is true and right. The group heard a Sioux legend about the tradition of passing a talking stick from person to person so everyone has a chance to speak. Children made their own talking sticks and played a game that is believed to have originated with the Zuni or Hopi Native Americans. This session demonstrated how everyone should have an opportunity to speak up for themselves or have others that can advocate for them.

EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Talk about... how you make decisions as a family. Does everyone get to vote? Do some people's votes count more than others? What are the reasons for this? How can we make sure everyone is heard in the family?

EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Try... using the talking stick your child made today to reach a group decision in your home. It might be a simple decision such as what to have for dinner or what to do over the weekend. Make sure only the person holding the stick talks. Be sure everyone gets a turn holding the stick. Remind family members that only one person holds the stick to ensure only one person can speak at a time.

A Family Adventure. Spend time going through gently used toys. Ask each child in the family to choose at least five items to donate to a local non-profit that shelters children. If possible, have the children go to the agency when the toys are dropped off to help them understand what they are contributing to and how important it is. If the agency allows, tour where the children play and sleep. Afterward, discuss what the shelter was like. Would children want to live there? Why or why not? What would they miss most if they could not stay in their own home?

Family Discovery. Some schools have anonymous donation programs to help students who need school supplies or school clothes. Check with your child's school social worker or counselor and, once you discover the needs, ask the whole family to come up with a plan to help fill some needs. You may decide to contribute $1 a week anonymously—perhaps from children's allowance—to a fund to help.

A Family Game. Ask everyone in the family to choose a possession that they cannot live without such as a cell phone, a special toy, or the television. This is to simulate what it means not to have a home or the money to have such possessions. Make sure everyone chooses something that they use or play with every day so that they feel the absence. Choose a day that everyone will not use that possession. You may try 24, 12, or 8 hours without the items. Make sure it is a day that will allow the strict non-use of the item. For instance, if you choose the computer, make sure that it is not the day before a big research project is due at school. When the time is over, talk about what it was like not to have that thing. Did you discover you could live without it very easily? Or not? Did you find alternatives for the item? How did it feel not to have something special of your very own?

A Family Ritual. Start a nighttime ritual of naming the things you are thankful for before going to bed. Each person should list things individually, aloud or just to themselves. As an alternative, each family member can have a "Thankful Book" to keep by their bed with a pen or pencil and write what they are thankful for about that day before going to sleep. Older family members can help younger family members write. Try to list at least five things each day and find at least one thing that is different each day. You can always write "family," but maybe one particular day you may be thankful for the particular way a person helped you—a family member, or someone else such as a worker at a store or the library.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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