Family Institution

I learned alot of this from Kaye while she lived in Australia.  Her family, as in the one she grew up in, did this kind of thing without even thinking of it as anything above average.
 
The school is an institution, and so is a sports group.  Music and dance and scouts also provide like- minded peer groups, teaching, recognition for achievement, in short, a chance to shine.  
 
Your family is one as well. One with the most influence.
 
A baby comes into the world with an "I'm the centre of the universe" viewpoint. The indignant cries of a 2 month-old who has been made to wait 20 secs for her milk.  The temper tantrums of a two year old -"What??!!  Me, not getting what I want! Unthinkable!"  Slowly they are trained by love and observation that there ARE others in the world, but that inner "I am important" is strong in children, as it should be. Their mother is the most important person in the world to them.  Daddy and brothers and sisters are on the list. Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles and cousins. Their family is important.  Try not to teach them otherwise by "out sourcing" everything.

With so many great institutions available and singing their own praises, inviting participation, a humble or unsure mother can easily be led to overlook the fact that the family is central in a child's life.  HER family is central in HER child's life.  
 
The family is, and should be, and will be, the most important group they are ever in.  A happy, relaxed, loving, stimulating family base frees them up to achieve their best in life.  The child is not dealing with issues at home.  Home is a refuge.  Provides strength and encouragement.  You take care of them, pat them on the shoulder and send them back into the world.  Think of a 5 year old going off to school or a 15 year old giving a speech at school.

Start thinking of your family in this way.  You start dreaming up ways to give your child a chance to shine IN THEIR FAMILY.  (It will be many years, if ever, till they pick up the idea from the world, "Yeah, but that's just at home.")
 
Here are some ways to provide the benefits of an institution from your own family.  One of those being YOU are in charge and can arrange for your family to provide what your child needs.

Tell many times and with enthusiasm the smart, cute thing he said.
Tell at the dinner table what he did today - the lego tower he built, the drawing she made, the story he told.
Give weekly awards at Family Night - The Kindness Award, The Sharing Award, The Best Cuddler Award.  Character talents are often over shadowed by physical talents, but no less important.
Send letters to Granma, reading aloud the bits about them.  Keep a copy from those letters of each child's news and on a quiet day read  them again, giggling together over how cute and funny they were. 
Kaye writes a monthly glowing report of each child's activities and sends it to her family.  She doesn't worry that they will think she is bragging. They all understand that the main purpose of the letter is to give the child a chance to feel good about their little achievements. I think its cute that she gives  a big thing, like a 23 year old graduating from university, the same weight in her reports, as a small thing, such as an 8 year old being brave when he needed stitches for a cut finger. I think it teaches that achievements don't have to be earth-shaking to be valuable.

 

Institutions have histories that are made much of. Your family has a history. Tell stories from the past, make together a family tree and show the child's place on it.

Establish some fun, but not over-whelming family traditions  that you love.(More on this later)  
You have the knowledge of the family and what they can and can't handle.

Showcase a talent in Family Night - a magic trick or a piano piece, a drawing or an invention.
You can even invite a few willing victims to a talent night where the child and maybe a few neighbour children perform.  So cute and they feel so important.  They don't have to be very good, to feel very good about it.

Family work projects and family service projects, even little projects, let the children feel part of an important group.  It doesn't matter if there are two of you or many, together you can accomplish good things.

To shine in an institution requires that you are better than alot of others.  Top of the class, fastest race.  
Doesn't  Always Happen.

To shine in your family institution requires that you are loved.

Imagine if THE most important people in the world thought YOU were wonderful.  

That is a family.

-Lisa

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