Family Affairs: What Do You Do?

Family Affairs
What Do You Do?

Soon after completing high school requirements, the question begins: "What do you do?" -- meaning, How do you contribute?
I suggest that adult family members back up this question clear to the preschool set and get them to realize that every one contributes to every group, beginning with the most important group: their family. Some marketing professionals are targeting preschoolers, investing thousands in getting them to talk the talk and think the thoughts that ring kerching in their cash registers. Parents have loftier, more enduring goals.
So let's look at essential roles for effective families to which even preschoolers in every family can contribute. Yes. These require of the parents the same attention to detail and planning as corporate marketers. In this 500-word article my goal is to encourage you to address your unique family and to plant some ideas that you can further develop in discussions with family members and/or professionals at your children's school and leaders in your faith group. Here are four areas to pursue:
1. Resources. Here we're not addressing the small percentage of children who bring in cash as child actors, models, or teenage entrepreneurs. Family values, even more than family finances, determine the material lifestyle of children, so every child can contribute to the maintenance of those resources. They can hang up those name-brand clothes, put trash in proper receptacles, dust that computer, eat all of their food, use their little brooms, rakes, and shovels, engage in some other fun maintenance activity, entertain younger siblings, etc.
2. Nurture and Support. Possibly you've experienced the surge of warmth that came from having the baby in your arms pat your shoulder or press his/her little check against yours. Innate temperament may have prompted the tiny one's response, yet all children can be taught to respond in ways that comfort and reassure their parents and siblings, e.g., to smile rather than frown, speak softly, to be silent rather than pout, etc.
3. Life Skills Development. Perhaps you've felt your lips immediately curl upward when interpreting a child's pez, tank oo, or 'scooze me. Or you've overheard or seen elementary and high school children comforting one another after a difficult experience in the classroom, on the playground, or at sports events. Although the popular concept is that "children are cruel," all children can be taught to respond in thoughtful ways until nurture and support become their first responses at home and everywhere else.
4. Maintenance and Management. While age is an important factor in assignments of responsibilities, families must ensure that some family members are not overburdened, e.g. on the basis of gender or physical size or deferred to on the basis of their good looks or high academic achievement.
Families concerned with the longterm happiness of each member periodically take inventory of their strengths and weaknesses. Is it time for your family to take inventory of how each member is contributing?

Faith Johnson Crumbly is a writer and motivational speaker for Essential Pieces Communication Strategies,