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Family life is full of major and minor crises—the ups and downs of health, success and failure in career, marriage, and divorce—and all kinds of characters. It is tied to places and events and histories. With all of these felt details, life etches itself into memory and personality. It's difficult to imagine anything more nourishing to the soul.

- Thomas Moore

In this session participants explore their own families. This is a critical, yet sensitive step in learning more broadly about families. Lived experiences of being a part of a family influences participants' learning about other people's families. As participants talk about their own families, they will gain sensitivity that they will use in their future photo-documentary work. The safe space of this group and session will make it possible for many youth to engage fully, but some may feel uncomfortable talking about their own families. Allow opportunities for reluctant youth to pass or to do activities envisioning their "prototypical family" instead of reflecting on their own families. This affords an option for engaging in activities without disclosure. Model respect and care for participants. In this session participants will learn more deeply about their own and other families in the congregation.

Activity 3, Conversation with a Guest, calls for participants to ask questions of someone who is very familiar with the families of the congregation. This might be you or you might need to invite your religious educator, minister, membership committee chair, or another congregational leader. Extend your invitation well in advance, and send the speaker a reminder a few days before the session.


Participants will:

  • Broaden and deepen their understandings and definitions of families, including the roles and functions of families
  • Value each person's individual worth and realize his/her unique perspective as an interpreter of our world and as a teller of our stories
  • Understand and appreciate the emotional, affective, and spiritual dimensions of family
  • Learn more fully that there is no "objective" point of view
  • Experience the roles of photographer/artist and storyteller—visual and/or text—within a faith community

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  • Understand that families are defined by its members and that each family member may define his/her family differently
  • Practice representing families visually through drawing
  • Become familiar with the diversity of family structures within the congregation
  • View the similarities and differences among families
  • Start preparing for the first Family Event (see Introduction, Implementation)

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