This weekend I was visiting with a school teacher from another state about the general attitude of some of the parents in the school district in which he works.
The conversation reminded me of an important lesson in my life about 18 years ago when I was living in northern Montana. I was active in the Lion's Club and one of their projects that year was called Quest. It was a nine-week awareness program that incorporated all aspects of the community. It claimed that in order to produce healthy and well adjusted children we have to have healthy and well adjusted families, schools and communities.
I was fortunate to attend a week long workshop in British Columbia where I was trained to facilitate parent groups. I remember the instructor drawing a picture of a three-legged stool and using it as an example of maintaining balance in a community. The instructor talked about how ineffective a three-legged stool is if any one of the legs is weaker than the others. In her example she referred to the family as one leg, the educational process as one leg and the community as one leg. This concept has always stuck with me. The importance of keeping all three legs strong and healthy is vital in raising a family.
While I was facilitating the parental groups over the next couple years I remember discussing the importance of family dynamics and the difficulties of raising children. But on the other hand, I remember talking to the kids in the junior high about how difficult it is being a kid in some families. It was interesting that while I was teaching the parents, the same course work and topics were being presented to their children during the health class in the school. Topics such as discipline, making good decisions, communications, respect and good role models were all part of the curriculum. Both the parents and the students had homework and this included discussing the family issues when everybody was together. Communication with an open mind seemed to be the key to many family problems.
I have lived in several communities in Oregon, Washington and Arizona since I was involved in Quest and it never fails I find myself thinking about the overall community by the strength of the three legs.
It has always been my personal goal in any community to do what I can to strengthen the legs of the area I live in. We do some of this through the pages of the newspaper and some of it by supporting the schools and their programs. I also enjoy getting involved in community organizations such as Lions or Kiwanis, because, usually these community clubs, dedicate a lot of time and energy to the youth.
Whatever methods we can do to help strengthen the three legs is important. Whether its by building the family structure, the education process or general community attitudes, its all important and its everybody's responsibility.