One of the great joys of motherhood is watching these tiny humans you helped to come into the world learn and grow and explore and develop their interests, hobbies, and talents. Something that has been a great love for my sons is Lego building blocks. When they were small, they played with Lego Quatro and Duplo blocks, then the collection of random pieces that we acquired through hand-me-downs and sales. As they grew older, money earned and saved, birthday and Christmas requests, and any time there was a reward to be given, it was a Lego set that was desired. It was always fun to build with them, and then to watch them build, to follow the step-by-step instructions. It wasn’t easy to watch them make mistakes and have to go back and try to figure out how to fix them, but it was good to know they were learning in the process. It was always fascinating to see the piles of random plastic pieces amazingly take shape into the final product.
In most Lego projects, there are pieces that are never seen once it is completed. One series that was less expensive and fun for our family to collect and build was the Brick Headz; each of these characters has just such a hidden piece: a 2×2, usually pink, brain. That brain piece sits in the middle of the head, and when the build is complete, it isn’t seen again. But it is still there, helping with structure and delighting the builders.
Lego is a toy that can be enjoyed by all ages. Project builds are fun, but so is creating something on your own with random pieces. Something you learn as you begin building is the need for structural support in overlapping seams. Fond childhood memories of mine include building Lego houses and figuring this out for myself as I built the walls. Having too many pieces that were too small or too similar limited what I could build. I needed variety in sizes, and I even liked the variety in color.
Legos are like families. Big Ocean Women declares: “The family unit has the potential to protect, shape, and lift humanity more than any other institution. Individuals working in families can accomplish more good in the world than individuals alone. As families learn, work, and serve harmoniously within the home, family members each develop a positive self-identity grounded in unconditional love. As each member of the family feels cherished and irreplaceable, relationships are strengthened, and the harmony felt will ripple out within society in immeasurable ways.”
Families do come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Individuals within the family have to learn to work together and fill their place; sometimes we might feel like the invisible pink brain piece, and sometimes we may be the final special outer wing. These families are also like Legos in that they build the society in which we live. When we work together in our communities, we bring our family experience and history to share in helping to make things stronger and better.
According to actforyouth.net “Parent-child connectedness is associated with a wide range of health indicators. Close, positive family relationships that feature open communication help young people stay healthy and avoid substance use and violent behavior.” They also report, “Frequent family meals are associated with higher self-esteem and positive academic outcomes, as well as decreased depression, alcohol and substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, and violent behavior.” The findings of research from many sources show that while the traditional family of married father and mother with children may not be “typical” in many places around the world, it is still the ideal way for children to be raised.
So, what if you’re not there? What if your family isn’t the “ideal”? Your family can still benefit from your focus and energy, and you can encourage the rising generation to strive for that ideal. If you are blessed to have that type of family and relationships, then you can reach out to your neighbors and friends and support them. Watch for their needs and bring them into your family. Let children see there is value in loving married relationships. Invite your children’s friends into your home for uplifting entertainment and be there as a trusted adult. Having grown up with a single mother, I know that my life was greatly blessed by the parents of my friends who did this as well as my mother making sure her children knew we were her priority and that she wanted us to strive for the ideal family in our futures.
I knew that I wanted to build a family that would be strong like that Lego wall I had built as a child. Sometimes when we’re building a project, things don’t go together just right, and we have to backtrack and fix the mistakes. Life isn’t always as simple as sorting through the varying colors and sizes and fitting things together just right; but goals, dreams, and determination go a long way. Something else I love about the Lego brand is the positivity they put out with their products. I have even seen that they have inspirational t-shirts with slogans like, “Dream it, Believe it, Achieve it,” “Build the Future,” and “Dream and Build.” That’s what we can do with our lives, families, and communities.