Create A Culture of Togetherness

by Mary Ann on June 1, 2010

One of the ideas that I find most appealing about the leadership education model is the encouragement for parent and child to share the educational experience. Parents read a great classic and either have their child read the classic or read it to them. Then they talk about it. That process repeats over and over. The parent shares their aha moments and hears about the child’s.

Parents are counseled to keep clubs and classes to a minimum and to allow children to spend more time with the family modeling life’s activities, cooking, repairing something, learning a new skill, or playing. Parents are taught to “stay present” with their kids and to enjoy working and playing with them.

Every family has a culture. They are all different.In our family culture kids and adults didn’t play or work together. Even at family reunions that theme played out. There were activities for kids and different ones for adults.

My mom and dad did a lot of stuff for us but not with us. My dad loved to garden but he did it alone. If we needed to weed or water we were sent out to do it. He did his part and we did our part. My mom planned fabulous birthday parties. She did it all and they were great. We attended. We didn’t plan together, organize them together and then participate together. I know that there are lots of families with a culture just like this. It makes it more difficult to incorporate the leadership model into the home. The public school model parrots this culture. Kids learn separately from parents and families spend many hours each day divided from one another.

When I was a young mother I had a beautiful garden in our back yard. I usually gardened by myself. I liked the solitude. I would send the kids out to weed. But at some point I realized that I wanted a different family culture. I wanted a different bond with my children. So each weekday when I got up at 6:30 I woke a different child up to help me in the garden. I did this all summer. They were not happy about it. But soon we started taking about all kinds of things. They shared what they were feeling with me and I was able to share my faith, my hopes, and my dreams with them. It was a remarkable summer. The fruits from the garden that year seemed sweeter than ever before.

What are the advantages of parents who are present with their children? Being with a child tells them you are concerned about them and that you like them. It allows them to model what you are doing and to ask questions. Deep and thoughtful conversations can come out of casual activity with a mom or dad. These are usually better received than when we go to the child and let them know we have something we want to talk about. They tend to open up more to us. There is shared laughter and sometimes tears.

The Spark Station is a remarkable tool for helping families accomplish a portion of this together time. Whether you are home schooling, your kids attend public or private school or you are a concerned and loving grandparent, The Spark Station can assist you to create marvelous, consistent and together moments with your children and grandchildren.

Put a Spark Station together and then set a structured amount of time to use it. For home schooler’s it will be during their structured family learning time. For those who attend school in the public or private sector it might be an hour before dinner or bed. Grandparents can choose an hour or two each day grandchildren are visiting.

This week decide on one thing that you can do as a family, together. Maybe it will be setting a specific structured family learning time, maybe it will be a morning devotional, and possibly reading together each night or you could choose one or two evenings a week to do something together.  For some families just sitting down at the table and eating would be a big thing. Whatever you and your spouse choose, make a commitment to it. Be consistent and be present. Don’t talk on the phone, fold laundry or watch TV out of the corner of your eye. When you have gotten that one thing really set in your family tradition then choose another and go to work again.

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