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Real Life, Real Families: new study launched


Front cover of Real Life, Real Families

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Mennonite Church Canada/MennoMedia joint release
August 24, 2012

HARRISONBURG, Va., and WATERLOO, Ont.— MennoMedia has launched a new audio curriculum, Real Life, Real Families, developed out of its weekly 15-minute radio program, Shaping Families.

Real Life, Real Families: Listen & Talk Series 1 is designed for Sunday school classes, small groups, parenting groups, and any group wanting to deal with family issues.

“The family arguably has the most profound impact on child development,” says Brenda Jones Harden in a study looking at stability for foster children and published in Future of Children Journal (Winter, 2004) from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University/Brookings Institution. “Children are more likely to have trusting relationships with caregivers who are consistent and nurturing, which leads to a number of positive developmental outcomes,” says Harden.

From a Christian perspective, “We know that family life is important to individuals, churches, and the broader community,” says Amy Gingerich, director of print media for MennoMedia. “We hope this new study piece will enhance conversation using the real stories of families and experts on family topics. The audio pieces can serve as a springboard for conversation—sometimes on difficult topics.” Audio segments range in length between three and eight minutes.

The curriculum features interviews with Ken Medema, Ervin Stutzman, Gloria Rhodes, and Kirsten Klassen, among others. It also includes inspirational “My Turn” segments by rotating Shaping Families speakers, Natalie Francisco, Steve Carpenter, Rebecca Thatcher Murcia, Harvey Yoder, Sam Heatwole, and Emily Ralph.

Structured into three units of four lessons each, the curriculum is flexible so that groups can use as many or as few lessons as they want. Units include: “Seeds for Healthy Families,” “Raising Children,” and “Families in Today’s Culture.” Topics include marriage, divorce, intergenerational families, memories, early parenthood, working and parenting, media, substance abuse, family meal time, and teaching peace to children. The leader’s guide includes Scripture passages, Bible backgrounds, suggestions for gathering times, discussion questions, and ideas for closing moments.

The curriculum comes with a printed leader’s guide for 12 sessions with three audio CDs or in a downloadable format. It is available for $34.95 for a print leader’s guide with CDs, or $19.95 downloadable online. A preorder discount of 20 percent off is offered until September 7, 2012. A sample lesson and audio interview can be found at To order, call 1-800-631-6535.

Shaping Families is a 15-minute weekly radio program heard in the U.S. and Canada on 21 stations and online at

MennoMedia is a ministry of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA producing media resources for living Christian faith.