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New Family Conversations

This is the first in an ongoing series of posts and responses on issues relating to family life. Over time I hope to address many issues for both families who are currently raising children, those for whom their children are grown and also families where children are not part of their family picture.

To begin our discussion I want to introduce you to the new Skinner House book from the Unitarian Universalist Association, "Tending the Flame: The Art of Unitarian Universalist Parenting" by Michelle Richards. Michelle has written a parenting guide from a Unitarian Universalist perspective. Her book helps us to truly be Unitarian Universalist parents. She has two particular goals in her book. The first is to help parents figure out what values and beliefs are important to share with their children, and the second is to help parents use our UU Principles and family rituals to guide their children’s moral and religious development.

The chapters in the book begin with topics such as knowing who you are as a parent, and understanding how we can take advantage of the teachable moments in our children’s lives. It moves through family rituals and holidays to spiritual practices, our UU Principles, and finally to the “Big Questions” on topics such as life, death, God, and love. The book is available in our bookstore, and from the UUA bookstore at http://www.uuabookstore.org/.

I’ve planned an Adult Education book discussion class in the hopes that we can all make the most of our experience of reading it. We will meet July 11, July 18, August 1, August 15, and August 29 from 11:45 – 12:45 while the children are in the second service religious education program. Details of the page assignments can be found in the Adult Education brochure. While this book and our discussion will be focused on parents who are currently raising children, this blog, and our class will not be limited to parents. If you are a grandparent, Religious Education teacher, or someone who cares about the moral and spiritual lives of our children, you are welcome to the class and to be part of the discussion.

In the week prior to our book discussion meeting, I will post some reflection questions so you can either come to the session ready to discuss, or if you are unable to come to the class, you are welcome to discuss your reflections here.

  • Our first assignment is to read through page 17. This selection includes the introduction as well as the chapters on Knowing Yourself, and Teachable Moments. Here are a few reflection questions to consider as you read these pages:
  •  What core values, morals or beliefs do you believe you “caught” from your parents or family of origin? Have you reconsidered and changed those beliefs or are they still a part of you? Were they explicitly taught, or were they modeled for you?
  • What does faith mean to you? Are you able to articulate what you believe?
  • How do you nurture your own spirit?
  • Reflect on some of the teachable moments you have experienced either when you were a child, or as a parent. If you are remembering a moment from your childhood, what about that experience allowed you to learn from it? If you’re thinking of a moment you experienced as a parent what do you believe allowed you to successfully take advantage of it? If you believe the moment slipped past you, what do you feel you could have used to be better prepared?
  • In the pages we read, what was the most important part for you? Why?

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