On Tuesday evenings I volunteer at the Children's Service Society in their Grand-families Program. It has been one of the best experiences I have ever had. I have learned so much from these amazing kids and have come to appreciate my family and many blessings that I take for granted every day.
It is a program for children who live with another family member besides their parents. Some kids in our group live with their aunts, uncles, and grandparents because their parents have passed away, are in rehab, negligent, or even in prison. The classes are there for support and to show the kids that they are not the only one in their hard situation. Every week there is a class that talks about things such as: dealing with anger, self-esteem, change is good, family dynamics, etc. This week we talked about family dynamics. We talked about totem poles, and how the indians used them to tell a story about their families. Every totem pole is different and unique and tells a different story.
We had the kids make their own totem poles of their families, making each family member a different animal. They made some cute ones! Then part of the activity is to share their craft (it really helps them become more comfortable discussing their situation). It was interesting to see who the kids included in their family totem pole. Some just added their brothers and sisters, their whole family, or just them and their grandma. We pointed out that no one's totem pole was the same and how boring it would be if they were. After we came to the conclusion that it would be boring if everyone's families were the same, so we should never be embarrassed about our own family. Families come in all shapes and sizes, and thats okay.
We ended by asking what family is to them.
. They came up with:
"don't just have to be your mom and dad..."
"heck they don't even have to be related to you."
"family is someplace where you have love and support"
"family is when your dog licks you hello"
"They just have to love you."
That is what family is.