A Successful Family Culture And The 5 Rules Of Engagement

by Mary Ann on May 26, 2010

I want to talk about how structured time and consistency really matter to children. In our church we have a new family. It is a mom with three daughters under the age of 7. She hasn’t been to church since she was about 14 or so. No one else in her family is active in any church and she joined our church in middle school because she had school friends there. So her experience with religion is very small, for her children it is nill. This is a whole new experience for them.

My husband and I have adopted her and her family. She was having a hard time getting to church on time. Each Sunday she would come late, just about the time the Sacrament was being passed. It was disruptive. So we began going over on Sunday morning to help her out. Then we really started liking her family and the kids started calling us grandpa and grandma and so we started going on Monday nights to help her teach them gospel principles and principles to help them with their family culture.

It wasn’t easy when we started. It was a challenge for me to stop early enough in the day to prepare some type of lesson and an activity. It was a challenge for the mom and dad to get home from work, eat and then have strangers over to teach a class, of sorts. It was difficult for the kids to sit quietly and pay attention to something that was all new to them. But we have persevered and amazing things have been happening.

The children can’t wait for us to come. We get hugs and kisses. It is always very chaotic when we first get there but it doesn’t take long and we are all kneeling around the coffee table coloring and talking, reading and singing. The mom is involved more and more. Even the dad stays in the room and smiles on his children and on us. It is nice.

Monday at about 6:15 I got a call from the mom. She works full time and goes to nursing school. She is tired at night and gets home at about 6:00. She called to say that she had a paper due on Thursday and she had just picked up the kids and thought we should cancel so she could get her paper done. I was relieved. It had been a particularly busy day for me, it was raining cats and dogs and I was grateful not to have to go out. Thirty minutes later I got another call. “Mary Ann, can you still come. I told the kids you weren’t coming and they threw a fit!”

Well I did go over and we had another great evening together. When it was time to go the oldest girl begged us to stay. She really wanted to make smoothies for us. I knew her mom had a paper due and yet they all wanted to make smoothies. They were delicious.

Now I don’t want you to think that everything is going perfectly. That Monday night the 2 year old cried the whole time. She was really fussy. The 4 year old nephew from downstairs came up and he and his 4 year old cousin don’t get along well. That caused some contention. It didn’t matter at all. We carried on, the overall feeling in the family was still warm and inviting and we stayed later than usual and had smoothies.

Here is the dynamic I am talking about. 1. We have a structured time that we consider really important. 2. We are consistent in having that time every week. 3. It is special. It doesn’t happen every day, all day. It is something to anticipate and look forward to. 4. In order to make room for it, we had to take something else out of our schedule. We have to keep it simple.  5. We plan.

The five rules of engagement apply to just about everything that has to do with family. They are the keys to success and to a healthy, warm, successful family culture.

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