Creating Family Covenants
Stuck at home together, every family member’s behavior affects others some exponential degree more than usual. Families may wish to try making a covenant together.
Rev. Jason Seymour serves our congregation in Springfield, MA. During the pandemic, he and his wife are working from home and parenting two elementary school children. He wrote this note to his congregation:
I know that we Seymours are in a similar boat as some of you. Jen and I are trying to each telecommute full-time, while also parenting - and now home-schooling - our grade-school-aged kids. We're grateful for the flexibility, but that flexibility has meant that we're all on top of each other all the time. It's a bit nuts, but we're getting there.
We needed some more structure in our house so as to minimize the endless tug-of-war and so that the adults could get our work done. So... on Tuesday, I put on my small group ministry hat and we created a family covenant and a schedule. The covenant has given us a great framework for reminding one another about how we'd like to live together... especially since we are together a lot more now!! Really, we should've done this a while ago... but 'social distancing' - and the resultant 'family squishing'! - has made this need all the more apparent.
Anyway, I thought I'd share with you the covenant that we came up with collaboratively. We all talked; I took notes; Jen wrote it up; and then we all signed it. Has it solved all of our issues? No, but at least now we have an agreed upon framework by which to call one another 'in'... instead of mom & dad calling the kids 'out' all the time.
With love, and with a prayer of peace & health, from our home to yours...
More About Covenants
A covenant is a promise between members of a group on specific ways they will behave to show mutual respect, kindness, and acceptance and to express their shared goal of right relationship. Covenanting is a grounding practice in Unitarian Universalist faith tradition and it is central to who we are and have been as a people of faith: Our UU congregations form our Association by covenant. Most Unitarian Universalist small group ministry programs and many children’s and youth programs create covenants as part of the group process so that everyone has a say in guidelines for a safe, supportive space.
A family covenant is NOT a way to get your kids to behave as you wish. However, it provides a respectful, open forum for all ages to reflect and express what they need from one another. Creating a family covenant together, leaning into it, and revisiting it when a change is needed can be a meaningful religious education activity all generations can explore.
Tapestry of Faith children’s religious education programs often engage the group in making a covenant for their time together. To create a family covenant you can turn to online activities such as one from Love Connects Us, a program for grades 4-5.
- The Seymour family covenant:
- respect one another’s time
- choice to participate or not; be on time
- Respect one another’s space (bedroom & belongings)
- ask to borrow; don’t just take
- give space, respect requests for privacy
- Respect shared space (everywhere else)
- finish tasks, clean up after yourself
- leave spaces ready for others; ask if you want to leave a project out
- do chores joyfully
- Respect one another’s voice & choices - listen
- Solve problems collaboratively
- no bullying, no tantrums
- See possibilities, no harassing on mellows, no riding
- Practice self-awareness
- take breaks
- Golden Rule
- Resist the rush
- The time is always right to do what’s right
- Have Fun!