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Engaging the Whole Family 1

Reality TV is often an amusing form of entertainment. We sit back and are entertained by the shock factor of Wife Swap, where contradictory family value systems collide in quite amusing ways. Then there was the Osbourne family, who for a short period, appeased the guilt of many families with their previously unimaginable level of dysfunction. Finally there is the hard nosed quasi-Mary Poppins from Great Britain, Jo Frost (a.k.a. Supernanny), that will put little kids on the “naughty step” in order to right the wrongs of poor parenting in the United States. And though laughter is what usually flows from these shows, there is an eery feeling that these “reality” programs feel more like a mirror of the North American family then a sensationalized depiction.

In the midst of such depictions of family in the entertainment media,youth and family ministers are left wondering, “What is the family? What happened to it? How can we engage the whole family in Christ-like ways?”

I want to suggest three resources that can help you wrestle through these questions.
David Elkind, Ties That Stress: The New Family Imbalance
Diana Garland, Sacred Stories of Ordinary Families
Marjorie J. Thompson, Family the Forming Center: A Vision of the Role of Family in Spiritual Formation

Every Tuesday over the next four weeks we will engage some of the insights of each of these works as we continue to seek meaningful ways to engage the whole family as youth workers.

Questions to Consider:
How do you define the family?
What are the central challenges facing families today?
What resources have helped shape your engagement with families?