Creating a Family Flag

To help establish family unity and loyalty, our Relief Society teacher suggested we create a family flag and motto. Our family decided we also wanted a family song and newspaper. Here are some ways we brainstormed together to accomplish our goal.

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    Choose the flag’s colors. The colors might be symbolic and represent your family. For weeks our family voted on our flag’s colors, finally narrowing it to blue and gold to represent loyalty and excellence.

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    Select symbols for the flag. Our family decided that the flag should have a heart at its center. Several of our children wanted the flag to have gold stars as well—one for each child. Everyone helped make these decisions, and the group effort strengthened and united us.

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    Choose a family motto and song. “Give your best” was voted as our family motto. Our daughter Carolee, who is talented at the keyboard, composed a melody she called “Go, Give It Your Best.” We added lyrics, and other family members accompanied the tune with instruments they played.

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    Create a family newspaper. One of our children suggested we start a family newspaper. We brainstormed a name for it at family home evening. Following a lesson on sharing, our daughter suggested we call it Sharing. The newspaper became a regular family project but usually made it to “press” only once a year. Our children’s drawings became the newspaper’s “photos.” Later we used real photos. Over several decades, the issues we accumulated have become a wonderful source of family history.

For many years, we raised our family flag daily on a flagpole in front of our Idaho home. Now, as each child leaves home for school, a mission, or married life, we give them a small replica of the family flag. We also make banners for our grandchildren and are delighted when our married children create their own family flags and their own family newspapers.

These family activities, like strands of thread, have woven our hearts more closely together and tied us tightly to memories that reinforce and sustain us.Susan Billings Mitchell, Valley Park Third Ward, Taylorsville Utah Valley Park Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Joe Flores

Teaching Teens Responsibility

Sometimes teenagers find it difficult to make the transition into adulthood. In addition to making plans for a mission and to be temple worthy and prepare for temple marriage, teens need to prepare for adult responsibilities. The following are suggestions for parents to help teens prepare for adulthood:

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    Encourage realistic educational goals. Teenagers may be uncertain of career paths, but most have developed a talent, an interest, or a personal preference for one academic area over another. This is a first step toward recognizing and committing to future educational and career objectives. Encourage teens to set broad, long-term goals that include obtaining a college degree or a vocational program certificate or seeking advancement in current employment. Teaching teens to prayerfully consider their goals will also help them feel a sense of direction as they make these difficult decisions.

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    Encourage exploration of educational opportunities. Through research and exploration, teenagers can select a program and an educational institution that meets their needs. Some college majors require that certain requirements be met during high school. Helping your teen choose a suitable program in high school will likely improve their chances for better educational opportunities in the future. If four-year institutions seem intimidating to your teen, consider a junior college or vocational trade school. At times, the application process may seem overwhelming, but school officials and guidance counselors are eager to help.

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    Instill a strong work ethic. Teenagers can seek opportunities to gain vocational skills. For some, a part-time job during high school is the first employment experience. Through this experience teenagers can learn the importance of performing quality work. Doing a job well involves sustained effort, good communication, and time-management skills. In doing so, teenagers learn the value of personal accomplishment.

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    Encourage financial independence through added responsibility. Many teenagers can shoulder the responsibility of a personal bank account, grasp the basics of budgeting, and understand basic tax preparation. Some adults wish they had been exposed to these skills earlier instead of spending years learning by trial and error. Allowing a teenager to take part in these processes may help them gain a better appreciation for how money should be managed.

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    Focus on long-term successes. Teenagers often feel a tremendous amount of pressure to succeed and find their niche in society after high school graduation. The process of finding that niche can be competitive, discouraging, and disheartening. Parents should continually support their teenagers and help them see their potential to do well.Mary R. Bastian, Manhattan Second Ward, Salina Kansas Stake

[photo] Photo © Photodisc and Photospin Power Photos

Learning about Our Leaders

Before every October and April general conference, our family hangs up pictures of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for a special family home evening lesson. Our children have enjoyed the challenge of learning the names of each of the Brethren as we have taught a variety of lessons relating to the prophet, revelation, and leadership. Pictures of other Church leaders can also be used for this activity.

I have felt a special spirit as I have contemplated the pictures on the wall during these times. I know my children have also felt this, and I share their excitement when we see these Church leaders speak during conference. Preparing for conference in our weekly Monday lessons has helped our children anticipate this joyous event, and it has helped the leaders of the Church become a greater part of our lives.Judy Ann Morrise, West Hills Ward, Beaverton Oregon Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth M. Whittaker