“Our Family Is a Team,” New Era, Sept. 2019, 18–21.
This whole family from Alberta, Canada, loves sports. “Name a game and a time,” says 15-year-old Halle, “and we’ll be there.” For example, during baseball season, you’ll find the whole family at the ball field. That’s where the oldest brother, Ty, 18, helps coach the team his 10-year-old sister, Skye, plays on.
But when the family is at the ballpark—or anywhere else for that matter—you’ll notice something that sets them apart from a typical sports-oriented family. At least one family member is always watching over the youngest sibling, seven-year-old Grady. It’s not just a matter of keeping an eye on him; he requires constant attention.
Grady was born with a condition that still defies medical diagnosis. He can’t form words but continually cries out and makes loud noises. He wears a bib because he constantly drools. And he likes to touch and feel everything, often placing dirt or other foreign objects in his mouth. So he has to be watched, closely and constantly, for his own safety.
“Whatever we do as a family, Grady comes along,” says Halle, 15. At the baseball game, for example, Halle and Kamree, 13, take turns watching Grady while Mom and Dad cheer for Ty and Skye.
“Grady loves the playground by the ball field,” Kamree says. “We stay with him while he has fun, and Mom and Dad are right there if we need help.”
“Our family is a team,” Ty says after the game. “So we take turns helping Mom and Dad with Grady. It brings us closer together to know we’re helping them and helping him.”
At a recent home evening, the family challenged each other to make a list of “Seven Ways to Win as a Family.” Here’s what they came up with:
Give lots of assists. “Whenever you can help, then help,” says Halle. “It isn’t about whose turn it is. It’s about, ‘What can I do to make things better?’”
Listen to the coaches. “Mom and Dad give you good advice,” says Ty. “So do Church leaders. They’re all cheering for your success, and they can help you to avoid or recover from spiritual injuries.”
Be a good sport. “Everybody makes mistakes,” Skye says. “So learn to forgive each other and move on.”
Play together. “Find things you like to do together,” says Kamree. “For us, it’s sports, but for your family it could be board games or videos. The point is to have fun so that there’s less stress.”
Pray together. “It’s a great way to work on your game plan for life,” Mom says. “You feel more like a family when you kneel together, thank Heavenly Father for each other, and ask for His help.”
Call a time out. “If there are fights or disagreements,” Dad says, “sometimes the best thing is to take a break. Cool down and remember you’re all on the same side.”
Practice, practice, practice. Just like in sports, success comes with sustained effort over time. “Talking about the gospel, reading scriptures together, going to church together—it all helps,” says Kamree. “Each of us brings something to the team effort,” says Mom. “And each of us helps carry some of the weight,” says Dad.
They also have some fun talking about what MVP might mean for a family. Maybe it’s Most Valuable Parents—that’s what the children think of Mom and Dad. Maybe it means Most Valuable Prayer—that’s what family prayer feels like sometimes. But they finally decide that for them, it means Most Valuable Person—and they all agree that for their family, that is Grady.
“I love being with my family,” says Halle. “And I love being with Grady.” She says her little brother has helped all of the family to see from a more eternal perspective. “Someday,” she says, “when we meet Grady in heaven, he will be in perfect form. He’ll be strong and healthy and he’ll know so many things. I will want to ask him what he was thinking during his time on earth.”
“Brothers and sisters are like built-in friends,” Kamree says. “We’re here to help each other. I think Grady is here to remind us of that.”
Mom, Dad, Ty, Halle, Kamree, Skye, and Grady. This family is like a lot of other families—most of the time they get along great, and occasionally they have to work their way through a squabble or two.
But there’s one thing they never disagree about, and that’s their love for each other. And that makes every member of the team a winner.