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

Activity 3: Family Role-play

Part of Families

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Photocopy Handout 1, Family Scenarios. Make enough copies for each small group and leaders to have one.
  • Gather brochures about family support services, both within and outside the faith community.

Description of Activity

Tell participants that in this activity they will explore how families function together. Explain that most families experience times when they function well together and times when they do not. Relationships always change, as do the external factors that shape them. The term family dynamics refers to the way family members communicate and deal with each other. When challenges and problems arise, family dynamics can be strained.

Invite the group to participate in a role-play exercise. Tell them that the role-plays show families meeting challenges well and not so well. Have participants form different-size groups to represent different families. Assign each group one role-play from Handout 1. Offer these instructions:

"You will now meet in your small groups and plan role-plays that you will later present to the entire group. First, read the scenario. You may want to spend a few minutes discussing how that scenario might play out in your own family. Then decide upon the family roles you will portray. Remember that families have all sorts of members, so vary your family structure. For example, you can choose to be a family that has two households because of divorced parents. You could choose to be a lesbian couple with adopted children. You could choose to be a family living with a single parent, grandparent, or aunt. The family could have stepchildren or foster children. You could be a family of immigrants, live in the city or the country, or be rich or poor. Someone in your family might be hearing impaired. Someone might be sick. You can be any age you want, as long as the age fits the role you play in the family.

"Now prepare two role-plays that demonstrate different ways the family you were assigned might cope with the problem. In the first one you could demonstrate the way you think the family would most likely react. Or you could demonstrate, with humor, a disastrous family response. In the second role-play, be sure to show how your assigned family might handle the same situation very well. If you feel you need more information than what is provided in the handout, add what you think is necessary to your sketches. When solving problems, a family sometimes draws on resources outside itself. At the end of each role-play, each of you will freeze in a pose that represents how the family member you are playing feels about what the family has done." Give each group a scenario.

Give groups several minutes to plan and rehearse. Then invite groups to do their skits. Ask participants to share reflections about what they considered when planning their role-plays. Invite all participants to offer suggestions about what a family might do to improve things when it is not functioning well. Ask participants, "How did economic and cultural factors influence family function in these scenarios?"

Close the discussion by considering the resources that are available to support families. Ask participants, "When they are going through difficult times, where can families get assistance?" List youths' responses on newsprint and add others. Use the following prompts as you see fit:

  • What are some strategies that can help families solve problems? List answers on newsprint. Offer suggestions such as family meetings, talking it out, and the like.
  • Are there congregational resources that can provide support for families?
  • What resources have you heard about in our community?

Have brochures about types of available assistance for youth to consider. Circulate copies of brochures from your congregation and from other sources of support.