National Runaway Safeline

Module 5: Families – Roles and Responsibilities

Family Roles and Responsibilities - Let's Talk: Runaway Prevention CurriculumIn 2015, 35% of our contacts identified the main issue they were reaching out had to do with family dynamics. This is not a new development. Each year, family dynamics ranks high on the list of issues identified by those who contact National Runaway Safeline (NRS). For NRS, this may include anything from problems with parents, guardians, or siblings to conflicts with family rules.

Module 5: Families – Roles and Responsibilities is included in the curriculum because of the family’s significance in the lives of many youth. Module 5 asks participants to think about the roles they play within their “family” and emphasizes the importance of their responsibilities, no matter how big or small. Participants will learn techniques for effective family communication and apply them to real-life scenarios.

“Family” means different things to different people. For some, it may mean the people you live with, for others, it may be the friends you choose. Families play various roles in our lives. They can be a great source of support, but they can also cause stress. No two families are alike.

Youth Oriented Exercises

In the first two activities youth get a chance to draw out what their “home” looks like. Youth get to be creative while discussing what makes up their family system. For some their home may look like a group home with lots of other youth, others may live with many family members, while some may live with only one parent. This is a great way for youth to think about their family structure, while at the same time thinking about the roles and responsibilities each person in the family has.

Youth will make a list of some of the responsibilities they have in their family system. As part of this activity, they can act out some of the responsibilities they have and play charades with their classmates or others in the group. This game tries to emphasize how much they contribute to their family and recognize what they are responsible for within a typical week.

Family Communications Exercises

The last two activities deal specifically with family communication, and more importantly how to be an effective communicator with your family. This activity builds on some of the lessons learned in Module 1: Communication and Listening. Talking with a family member about an important issue can be difficult. By preparing youth and their family about knowing how to communicate effectively, each family member will have a better chance of getting their point across clearly and successfully. An open and honest discussion can correct many misunderstandings between family members. The curriculum provides several handouts that youth can take home. These handouts focus on family communication tips as well as introducing the acronym “T.A.L.K.”

Time the talk so it occurs when you and your family member are ready.

Assertively communicate, stating your needs as well as acknowledging those of others.

Locate the talk where you can speak freely and avoid disruptions.

Know in advance what you want to say.

Module 5 was created for youth to share with their families. Communication is a two-way street. By arming youth and their families with effective ways to communicate we hope they feel better prepared to talk and listen to each other and deal with any issues that may arise. Remember that when someone needs help with communication, they can always reach out to 1-800-RUNAWAY. An NRS team member can even help mediate a discussion between a youth and their guardian.

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