Family Day. If you’re a parent, have you ever declared a day to be a family day and tried to get your kids excited about it? What do you imagine this day to be like? Is it you and your family going to the lake or the park together or spending a day together doing activities at home? Maybe it’s a carnival event at your child’s school where families are invited to play fun games and win prizes. Is it something you give attention to when your kids are young and not so much so when they are grown?
If you asked our college graduate interns in the Philippines about a family day, they’d tell you it’s a day they greatly anticipate and make an event of, where they invite their families to our Tahanan Community Center to learn about the efforts of the ministry that happens there, and how they play an integral part in our ministry programs.
Most of the Filipino students we work with range in age from late teens to mid-twenties. In American culture, it would be customary for individuals in this age range to seek after independence from their family in order to find their own way in the world.
While there are elements of this with young adults in the Philippines, the fundamental value placed on family keeps these high school and college graduates tied to their family in many ways. Even in choosing an educational or occupational path, those in their twenties feel the cultural pressure to provide for their parents and grandparents.
It’s not my aim to do an entire sociological analysis on family in the Philippines, but rather how we as an organization have made consideration for it in the context of our development efforts. We recognize the need for familial involvement and prioritize it over our American cultural value of creating distance between young people and their parents in order to become established as adults.
For some time, we made it a priority to visit the homes of our Tahanan interns to stay connected to the families. But Family Day allows families to see the venue at Tahanan and experience what the community center is and who operates it.
Clark Miller, ministry coordinator at Tahanan, commented, “One reason we like having Family Day is to allow families to have times of fun and fellowship together. While it’s common for the participants to play games and do activities together at Tahanan, they don’t always get those same opportunities with their families.”
In keeping with the Filipino love of games, Family Day consists of lots of moments for participants to break the ice and enjoy a day of laughing together, sharing a meal together and taking family photos so each family can take one home.
As these young people are finishing school, becoming teachers or social workers, they also feel the responsibility to allow their family to be part of this development in their narrative of learning what it means to follow Jesus. Our hope is that integration events such as Family Day are an encouragement for these families in that effort!