To enter into the presence of another human being ... is to enter into the presence of God in a new and different way. — Stephen L. Carter
In Today's Session...
Today we heard a story about a very argumentative third grade class. The school teacher asked his rabbi for advice. The rabbi visited and told the children that the messiah was among them, which caused the children to think about and treat each other differently. We imagined that someone in Moral Tales was a messiah and we created affirmation portraits, with each person contributing things they recognize or like about their peers. We talked about the importance and benefit of seeing others with awe.
Explore The Topic Together. Talk About...
Ask your child to tell you about the story, "The Messiah is Among You." Talk about the first Unitarian Universalist principle, the inherent worth and dignity of every person. Ask your child what this means to them and share your thoughts.
Extend The Topic Together....
Create your own family affirmation book, with a self-portrait page and affirmation page for each member of your family. In a scrapbook or notebook, have each person create a self-portrait, including a list of personal favorites (food, game, color, sport). On each person's affirmation page, engage everyone in contributing "Things I love about (name)" or "(Name) is a superhero because... "
Keep the book in an accessible location and read it together from time to time. You can do this as a one-time event or you can make it a practice to update the book on a regular basis with new self-portraits and affirmation pages.
A FAMILY RITUAL
Consider setting aside a weekly or daily family time for expressing gratitude and appreciation to one another. Simply sit together and say "thank you" for the daily or weekly actions which you have appreciated. Try to be as specific as possible. Instead of saying, "Thanks for being great," say, "Thank you for clearing the table with a cooperative attitude today." Give detailed information regarding how another person's actions have impacted you. Instead of, "Thanks for helping me," say, "When you helped me clean the living room that really saved me a lot of time and I was able to relax for a few minutes before dinner."
This simple practice of saying "thank you" encourages family members to notice and appreciate one another. Specific and detailed praise offers clear information that encourages the desired behavior and makes a thank-you more believable and valuable to the recipient.
A Family Game
Whenever you are reading a book or watching a movie or television show that has a villain, try to come up with at least three things to appreciate about this individual. In stories that have complex villains, this will be easier than plot lines that reflect a mentality of purely "good" versus purely "evil." Make it a challenge to think of ways to re-interpret the "bad guy." A villain might be exceptionally smart, charismatic, persistent, or creative. Use humor whenever possible. Note: With particularly "evil" characters, be sure to make a distinction between having a talent and what you choose to do with it — help or harm. Be careful not to glorify "evil" behaviors.