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

Taking It Home: Our Families

Part of Families

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


We drew pictures of our own families. We heard from a guest speaker who told us about the many diverse families in our congregation. We made decisions about how we will work together as we prepare to start photographing families.


Unitarian Universalists want their houses of worship to be places where people feel welcome, where it does not matter if they look alike or even if they think alike about everything. Frances David, one of our Unitarian ancestors, said, "We need not think alike to love alike." What are some ways that people in your congregation think alike? In what ways to they do not think alike? Can you name ways that they love alike?


Does the congregation feel like one big family to you? Why or why not? Who are the members you think of as caregivers or elders? Who are some of the younger children you interact with regularly? Are they like siblings? How so or how not?


Put-Ups. Families and groups of friends can get into habits. Some of the habits are good, like listening to each other. Some habits are not so good, like put-downs. Suggest a new "rule" in your household. For every put-down directed toward you or someone else, come up with two put-ups. If you tell your sister she is stupid, you have to come up with two ways she is great ("because you are my sister" does not count). That goes for yourself too—if you put yourself down by saying something like "I am so lazy," you have to come up with two ways you are great. Make put-ups a habit.


Feeling Word Charades. Sometimes it's hard to figure out what another person is feeling. In families it is important to be able to communicate feeling words. With your family, brainstorm as many feeling words as you can. Put them on slips of paper. Divide the family into two teams. Team One acts out the word for Team Two, and then the teams switch. Play the game until you have completed a few rounds. The traditional rules for charades apply: no talking, no spelling. Discuss afterward:

  • What kinds of feelings were the easiest to guess? The hardest?
  • What feelings were the easiest to act out? The hardest?
  • What are some reasons why certain feelings are harder to act out than others?
  • Think of a time when someone did not understand or know how you felt. What happened? How did you eventually resolve the problem?