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What Is Your Family About?

Photo credit: Louish Pixel via Flickr Creative Commons.


Knowing who you are as a family and working to build a family identity can help you make important decisions about how to live together. Here are two activities to get you started.

by Heidi Indahl

Intentional-FamilyWhat is your family about? I wonder how your kids would answer that question. How would you? The answer might be really easy or quite difficult to come up with, but it will tell you a lot about who you are as a family—your family identify. If you are up for a challenge, this one question alone could probably provide an entire evening worth of dinner-time conversation.

No two families are exactly the same. Knowing who you are as a family and working to build a family identity can help you make decisions about school activities, sports, charitable giving, and even the day to day basics of family living. As St. John Paul II said, “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.”

Spending time together, through dinner-time conversation and more, is one of the simplest ways to build your family identity and help each member of your family discover the strengths they have that will be useful in the greater lens of our world.

Activities to Build Your Family Identity

Build a Family Timeline

Build a timeline highlighting all of the important moments in your family’s history.  Illustrate or add pictures whenever possible.  You can start with the birth of the oldest person in the family, or you could start with an important date in the relationship between mom and dad (when they met, or jump forward to their wedding).

A family timeline can be as simple or fancy as you like.

After you have included all of the demographics (births, deaths, family moves) and sacraments (weddings, baptism, first reconciliation, first communion, confirmation, holy orders, and anointing), ask each family member to choose a memory to add to the timeline.  Maybe a vacation that was special or another event.  Ask children to explain why their choice belongs on the family timeline.  It could be that an individual achievement was made more meaningful for your child because they were able to share it with their entire family.

Display your timeline in a place that it can be added to as needed.

Create a Family Masterpiece

If you have mostly younger children (or even if you don’t), it might be hard to make a timeline with input from your youngest family members.  This project is aimed at promoting family togetherness in the form of a masterpiece work of art that you can display proudly in your home.  Using construction paper and glue or paint, take a tracing or print of each person’s hand and arrange them to make the branches of a tree.  You can cut out, paint, or otherwise illustrate the trunk of the tree, maybe creating a design from your family’s last name.  Hint:  If you have a baby, baby feet are usually easier to work with than hands and can make a great tree trunk!

As your family grows, don’t take down the old works of art.  Frame them and display them nicely, but be sure to make a new one as your family changes.  You don’t have to do the same project every year, but challenge yourself to make at least one family masterpiece each year.  Imagine the treasure trove of memories you will have to hang on your walls to share with your grandchildren someday!

For more family project ideas, visit my Family Projects Board on Pinterest.


Follow Jerry Windley-Daoust:

Publisher, Gracewatch Media

Jerry Windley-Daoust is a writer, editor, and father of five. He writes essays and stories at Windhovering and is the show-runner for Gracewatch Media, a small Catholic publisher. You can follow his latest publishing projects at gracewatch.org.

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