About the Author
R. W. Alley is the illustrator for the popular Abbey Press adult series of Elf-help books, as well as an illustrator and writer of children’s books. He lives in Barrington, Rhode Island, with his wife, daughter, and son. See a wide variety of his works at: www.rwalley.com.
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A Kid's Guide to Keeping Family First
By J. S. Jackson, R. W. Alley
Abbey PressCopyright © 2005 J.S. Jackson
All rights reserved.
What Is a Family?
A family is a group of people who love each other and live together.
Many families have a mom and dad, some kids, and maybe some pets. Other families have just one parent and one or more kids. Some families have grandparents or other relatives living with them.
Some families are "blended." This happens when a mom from one family marries a dad from another family to make a brand new family.
A Strong Family
In a strong family, both the adults and the children help each other. They are loving, kind, giving, and honest with one another.
Parents are like teachers, showing their children how to do things—like riding a bike, or making a cake, or cleaning up their rooms. Parents also try to teach their kids "values"—how to be polite, get along with others, and become a loving person.
Children teach their parents too. They show their mom and dad what it's like to be a kid, how they feel, and what they need.
It's very important for families to talk and listen to each other. Talk with your parents every day and let them know what's going on in your life. Tell them what you're feeling—the good stuff and the bad stuff.
Can you think of ways to tell your parents something without talking? You can tell your dad you love him by giving him a hug. Or by doing a chore without being asked. Or by keeping your room looking nice.
"Traditions" are things that you do over and over, which mean a lot to you. Your family probably has certain ways of celebrating holidays—special decorations, foods, parties, and gifts. These are your family traditions.
If your family background is Irish, Mexican, Italian, or Polish, for example, you may have traditions from these countries.
Traditions don't have to be about holidays. Any special family event—a picnic in the park, going to the movies, a vacation at the lake—can become a family tradition.
The Family Meal
One of the most important family traditions happens every day—the evening meal. This is a great chance for everybody to be together and talk about how their day went.
It's always nice to take a moment to pray before eating, to thank God for giving you this food and your family to share it with. Some families like to join hands while doing this.
Mealtime is a good time for all to share how the day went, what they did, and how they feel about it. You can talk about things you're happy and proud about, or things that made you feel bad.
Sharing Your Faith
Many families have a weekly tradition of going to church or some other place to pray. There's an old saying: "Families that pray together stay together." Your family's faith is a strong tie that you share and can call upon when times get tough.
Making weekly trips to a place of prayer is a great family tradition. You can learn about God and how to pray. You can feel a part of the "faith family" as you listen to the readings, sing songs, and pray together.
Many families plan weekly family meetings to catch up with each other and settle any problems.
Some families use a "talking stick," as Native Americans used to call it. Only the person holding the stick may talk. When you are holding the stick, everyone in the family has to listen to you. The stick is passed from person to person until everyone has said what they need to say.
It doesn't even have to be a stick. You could have a "talking spoon" if you want, or even a "talking spatula"! But this is a good way to make sure everyone gets a chance to talk and be heard.
When Kids Fight
When any people live together, fighting is bound to happen. It's okay to get mad, but try to "fight fair." Fair fighting means telling the other person how you feel—without hitting, hurting, or saying anything mean.
You could say to your sister, "I'm really upset because you played my new game without asking me, and now some of the pieces are lost." Always try to start with the word "I." "I feel bad when you ..." or "I don't like it when you...."
Listen to what the other person has to say, too. Then try to work out a plan that makes both of you happy.
When Parents Fight
Almost all parents fight at one time or another. And almost all kids think it's scary. Parents are big and their voices are louder.
It's best to leave them alone and let them work it out. Many parents feel closer after they let off steam and then make up.
Just remember that people who love each other can still get angry with each other. It's like a cloud passing in front of the sun. For a little while the sunshine is gone, but you know it's still there, and it always returns.
Excerpted from A Kid's Guide to Keeping Family First by J. S. Jackson, R. W. Alley. Copyright © 2005 J.S. Jackson. Excerpted by permission of Abbey Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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