Tapestry of Faith: Families: A Jr. High School Youth Program that Explores the Diversity, Commonality, and Meaning of Families

Alternate Activity 1: Is That A Family?

Part of Families

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

Photocopy Handout 1, Is That a Family?, for all pairs or small groups

Description of Activity

Help participants gather in pairs or small groups. Explain that they will receive a handout listing potential "families." Their task is to decide why the group is a family or why it is not. Give each pair/small group a copy of Handout 1, Is That a Family? Encourage participants to share their ideas with others.

List of Potential Family Groups

  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  • An eighteen-year-old living alone
  • One youth, two households: one with a mother, stepfather, and sister; and another with a father
  • A foster child living with two children and a dad
  • A woman and her two children living with her sister, who also has two children
  • A boy living with his mother; his aunt living with his uncle and two girl children; a grandmother living in an assisted-living facility
  • A mother, one child, and a live-in nanny

When the discussions are finished, gather everyone together and share reflections. Facilitate discussion about form, function, and purpose of a family. Record ideas on newsprint if you wish and save the newsprint for use in Session 7, Families Function: Families Work. If it seems appropriate, encourage debate by asking one volunteer to argue why a certain grouping is a family and another volunteer to argue against him or her. If the group engages in "mini debates," monitor the process for individual and group safety. Refer to the covenant as needed.

Close the activity by asking, "So, what makes a family? What do we need to keep in mind as we figure out the answer to that question?" Help participants list traits of families (help each other, love each other, and so on).

Extension Activity (optional)

Older participants may be interested in the idea that some people hold their families in their hearts, even when they may seem to have no family at all. Share the following true story from a UU congregation as you see fit:

Within one UU congregation there was a celebration of newly signed members at the start of the worship service. An older man, with whom the congregation was acquainted, explained his decision to become a member by saying: "When she was alive, my wife was always telling me that I should join this place, join this congregation. As you know she died two years ago. And since that time she has been even more insistent, so I'm giving in. Now I'm a member.

Invite youth to reflect on what the man meant. Are there times when they "hear" family members, even when they are not present?

Including All Participants

The optional story deals with death. Be sensitive to any participants that might have recently experienced death and are grieving.