The Family Life Merit Badge: Your Ultimate Guide In 2020


Thoughtful communication and teamwork are essential foundations of a happy family. Earning the Eagle-required Family Life merit badge will help you to discover the roles you play and patterns you exhibit within your home. Hopefully bringing your family closer together along the way!

In this guide, I’ll be presenting you with thought-provoking questions that’ll help you to answer each of the Family Life knowledge requirements and complete your merit badge worksheet. Take the time to think through your answers and connect with your family members. One day, you might be using what you’ve learned here to build a family of your own 🙂

Before we get started, if you have other Eagle-required merit badges to earn, I’d recommend checking out my Difficulty Ranking Guide to Every Eagle-required Badge. There, you’ll also find the links to my other merit badge guides, as well as a description and summary of each badge’s requirements. I’m certain this resource will be helpful to scouts on their road to Eagle!

Also, remember that ScoutSmarts should just serve as your starting point for merit badge research. In school, we’re taught not to plagiarize, and the same is true for Scouting worksheets. Answer these questions in your own words, do further research, and I promise you’ll gain much more from every merit badge you earn!

It’s time to get started. Thoroughly read through each requirement of the Family Life merit badge. Then, put your thinking cap on because we’re about to begin breaking down the roles you play in your family life.

What Are The Family Life Merit Badge Requirements?

  1. Prepare an outline on what a family is and discuss this with your merit badge counselor. Tell why families are important to individuals and to society. Discuss how the actions of one member can affect other members.
  2. List several reasons why you are important to your family and discuss this with your parents or guardians and with your merit badge counselor.
  3. Prepare a list of your regular home duties or chores (at least five) and do them for 90 days. Keep a record of how often you do each of them. Discuss with your counselor the effect your chores had on your family.
  4. With the approval of your parents or guardians and your merit badge counselor, decide on and carry out a project that you would do around the home that would benefit your family. Submit a report to your merit badge counselor outlining how the project benefited your family.
  5. Plan and carry out a project that involves the participation of your family. After completing the project, discuss the following with your merit badge counselor:
    5a. The objective or goal of the project
    5b. How individual members of your family participated
    5c. The results of the project
  6. Do the following:
    • 6a. Discuss with your merit badge counselor how to plan and carry out a family meeting.
      6b. After this discussion, plan and carry out a family meeting* to include the following subjects:
      • 6b I. Avoiding substance abuse, including tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, all of which negatively affect your health and well-being
        6b II. Understanding the growing-up process and how the body changes, and making responsible decisions dealing with sex
        6b III. How your chores in requirement 3 contributed to your role in the family
        6b IV. Personal and family finances
        6b V. A crisis situation within your family
        6b VI. The effect of technology on your family
        6b VII. Good etiquette and manners
  7. Discussion of each of these subjects will very likely carry over to more than one family meeting.
  8. Discuss with your counselor your understanding of what makes an effective parent and why, and your thoughts on the parent’s role and responsibilities in the family.
1) Prepare an outline on what a family is and discuss this with your merit badge counselor. Tell why families are important to individuals and to society. Discuss how the actions of one member can affect other members.

The word, ‘family’ can mean different things to different people. Strictly speaking, a family is a group of people related by blood or marriage. However, to some, the definition of a family can extend to those they love or have strong connections to.

At its core, families are groups of people in interaction with each other. Effective families provide individuals with a sense of safety and belonging. Parents teach their children, and eventually, those same children start their own families. In a sense, a family is like a mini-society.

Families are important to society because all members of our society are also part of their own family. If their family teaches them well, an individual in our society will contribute to others and act morally. That’s why proper families are so important in the development of individuals and the formation of our society.

Because families within our society are so interconnected, the actions of just one individual can create ripple effects that extend far beyond themselves.

2) List several reasons why you are important to your family and discuss this with your parents or guardians and with your merit badge counselor.

Your family should love you unconditionally. Regardless of what you do or say, you’ll always be an important member of your family. 

To find specific reasons as to why you’re important to others, first examine the roles you play within your family: 

  • Alongside being your parents’ child, are you also a sibling? 
  • How about a grandchild? 
  • Do you have pets — maybe you’re also a caretaker? 

Each of the roles you play make you important to someone else within your family. 

On top of these roles that you embody, now ask yourself, ‘what do you do?’ 

  • Do you have any chores or responsibilities within your family? 
  • Do your parents or siblings have any expectations of you?
  • What do you do on a daily basis to give back to your family?

Your answers should give you plenty of reasons as to why you’re an important part of your family. After finishing brainstorming, speak with your family members to see if they can add any reasons you haven’t yet thought of.

3) Prepare a list of your regular home duties or chores (at least five) and do them for 90 days. Keep a record of how often you do each of them. Discuss with your counselor the effect your chores had on your family.

The best way to complete this requirement is to think of chores that you already do. I’m sure you have way more than five home duties that you perform on a regular basis! All you need to do now is to print my schedule and note down each time you finish a chore.

On the left is a picture of a printable PDF that’ll help you to record your home duties over a period of 90 days. You can download your own copy by clicking the button below. 

If you’re looking for some inspiration on some home duties you could add to your plan, here are some chores that I did growing up:

  • Set the dining table before each meal
  • Helped wash the car each month
  • Cleaned up my possessions from around the house each week
  • Moved laundry from the washer to the dryer and folded clothes
  • Cleaned my pet’s cage daily
  • Brought the mail into the house
  • Collected and took out the garbage on trash days
  • Occasionally washed the dishes 
  • Mowed the lawn when I was older
  • Sometimes helped with cooking
  • Vacuumed the house

You might be thinking that chores are just another way for your parents to get you to do extra work. However, regularly doing chores can have a positive effect on your family. 

Here are a few benefits of regularly performing home duties:

  • Paying you for completing chores can help your parents provide you with more money and freedom as you get older.
  • You’ll learn valuable skills needed to run your own household in the future.
  • Working on chores together can help your family become closer.
  • Routinely performing chores will show your family that you’re becoming responsible.
  • Your family works hard to raise you. Helping them around the house will lessen their stress and make them appreciate you even more.

Bonus ScoutSmarts tip: When I was around 14, I realized I was doing all of these chores for free! I wrote out a long list of my regular responsibilities and then brought it to my parents. We first talked about the home duties I was performing regularly. Afterward, I asked if I could help to pay for my own entertainment by receiving an allowance for my work.

They were surprised by how much I did and agreed to give me an allowance each week ($15 if all chores were completed)! When you’re working on this requirement, asking for an allowance or raise might be worth trying.

4) With the approval of your parents or guardians and your merit badge counselor, decide on and carry out a project that you would do around the home that would benefit your family. Submit a report to your merit badge counselor outlining how the project benefited your family.

This project doesn’t need to be too large, as requirement five will have you carry out another project involving the participation of your family. Some things that you could do to help your family and complete this requirement include:

  • Create an organizational system for clutter: Is there a part of your house that always seems a bit messy? Create a box or some sort of folder to contain the mess. Then, teach your family how to use the system so that the area doesn’t become messy in the future!
  • Make a useful item: Use your creativity to create a craft that’ll be helpful around your house. You could create something as simple as a decoration outside your door, or as complex as an automatic coat rack!

Since every household is different, you should find a project that’ll most fit you and your family. Create something that you can be proud of, and improve it over time. Being able to create things is one of the greatest skills you can develop in your life.

5) Plan and carry out a project that involves the participation of your family. After completing the project, discuss the following with your merit badge counselor:
5a) The objective or goal of the project
5b) How individual members of your family participated
5c) The results of the project

Your parents might already have a few home improvement projects in mind. If you don’t have any project ideas, I’d recommend asking them for suggestions. Below are a few examples of fun home projects that would satisfy this requirement:

  • Painting or replacing your mailbox: It seems like mailboxes are always needing more care. Replacing or painting your mailbox could be a great family project to do over the weekend.
  • Planting a small herb garden: Do your parents cook? Getting a few pots of common cooking herbs like oregano and parsley will be a great project to improve your home (watering the plants could also be an easy chore).
  • Cleaning and donating old items: If you’re like me when I was as a teen, your room is probably getting pretty cluttered. A great project for your family could be to clean your house while going through all of your belongings. Look for things to donate or dump. 
  • Room remodeling: Sick of any rooms in your house? With your parents’ help and permission, completely re-organize. See if your family can change up the old room to create a fresh new look.

The point of this requirement is to work together with your family and improve your household. Don’t see this as a chore, and have fun with whatever project you pick. Afterward, ask your parents what they like about the project, and include their comments in your merit badge report.

6a) Discuss with your merit badge counselor how to plan and carry out a family meeting.

A family meeting should be scheduled a few days ahead of time, with its agenda being laid out beforehand. When planning your own family meeting for this requirement, write out a list of subjects to cover as well as questions to consider.

Here are a few points to keep in mind when carrying out your family meeting:

  • Be respectful of your family member’s opinions.
  • Allow whoever’s speaking to finish their statements before talking.
  • Use ‘I feel’ statements, rather than ‘you’ statements to avoid being confrontational.
  • Relax and have fun. The goal of a family meeting is to encourage improvement and connectedness.
6b) After this discussion, plan and carry out a family meeting* to include the following subjects:

Thoughtfully consider each topic and take note of the subjects that are most relevant to your life and well-being. Since every family situation is different, under each section I’ve also included a few conversation-starting questions that you and your family can discuss during the meeting.

6b I) Avoiding substance abuse, including tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, all of which negatively affect your health and well-being

Throughout life, you should always be making an effort to avoid unhealthy addictions and bad habits. Substance abuse is an especially toxic form of addiction that can negatively impact your relationships, as well as your mental and physical health.

With your family, consider the following questions:

  • Are you currently experiencing any negative thoughts or emotions? What are your coping mechanisms? Will these actions help you in the long run?
  • Do you know anyone with a substance-abuse problem? How can this issue hurt the people around them?
6b II) Understanding the growing-up process and how the body changes, and making responsible decisions dealing with sex

Bodily changes are a natural part of growing up and are nothing to be ashamed of. By being aware of the shifts your body will experience, and making responsible decisions when dealing with sex, you’ll be able to avoid any long-term consequences.

  • Why is safe sex important? What are some of the consequences of unprotected sex, and how can these impact your plans in life.
  • How is your body expected to change within the next few years? How is your family willing to support you in going through these changes?
6b III) How your chores in requirement 3 contributed to your role in the family

Completing chores without complaint is a great way to be a valued citizen within your household. Reflect back on the chores you completed in requirement three.

  • How did the chores you complete make the lives of your family members easier? What are some chores that you’ll continue to do on a regular basis?
  • Why is it important that each household member contribute to their family?
6b IV) Personal and family finances

A household, like a country, must have a balanced budget to run effectively. This means that every family member should be on the same page in terms of how much is being spent every month:

  • How does your family keep track of their finances? What are some of the largest expenses that your family takes on?
  • Does your family have enough saved in the case of an emergency? Does your family remember to give back to their community in terms of their time or money?
6b V) A crisis situation within your family

In the case of a crisis, every scout knows they should be prepared. Preparing for a family emergency is no different. 

  • What are some disasters that your family could encounter? How would you prevent or mitigate these issues?
  • In the case of an unexpected passing, how could you ensure that your other family members are cared for?
6b VI) The effect of technology on your family

Technology plays an ever-growing role in the lives of many Americans. However, if misused, technology can actually make us less connected. Set boundaries on your use of electronics, and you’ll foster a much more happy and connected family as a result.

  • Have you noticed any family members spending an excessive amount of time with their technology? What are the costs of using technology too often?
  • What are some electronics policies that your family can all agree to right now? How could this policy help your family to become closer?
6b VII) Good etiquette and manners

Proper etiquette and manners are important ways of showing respect for others. To be taken seriously, you must take others seriously as well. Practice these habits, and you’ll honorably represent your family.

  • Is everyone within your family treated with respect? How would each family member like to be treated and spoken to?
  • How do you represent your family outside of the house? Do you treat all other people with the same levels of etiquette and respect? Why or why not?
7) Discussion of each of these subjects will very likely carry over to more than one family meeting.

Don’t make your family meeting a one-time thing! By regularly communicating and discussing crucial issues, your family can work together more effectively. Feeling ‘heard’ is an essential human need, so listen to your family members and help to support them whenever possible.

8) Discuss with your counselor your understanding of what makes an effective parent and why, and your thoughts on the parent’s role and responsibilities in the family.

After completing the previous requirements, you should have a good understanding of your role within your family. Now, take a moment to consider the role that your parents play. Do they make you feel loved and encouraged? Do they challenge you? How could they improve their approach to better connect with you?

A parent’s role is to prepare their child for happiness and success later on in life. A parent should love their child unconditionally, but be firm in their discipline in order to build a child up. The most important skill a parent can have is empathy because it allows them to understand their child and help them to develop in a balanced way.

What are some qualities that you’d like to have when you become a parent? How will you use what you’ve learned from your own family to raise any future children you might have? Your answers to these questions will help to form a clearer picture of what being an effective parent means to you.

Conclusion

Great work reading this far! I hope my guide has successfully prepared you to earn your Eagle-required Family Life merit badge. Taking responsibility for your role within your household isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Try to use what you’ve learned here to grow closer with your family and I promise you’ll be happier as a result! 🙂

Also, if you’re pushing to reach Eagle, and haven’t seen my difficulty ranking set, you might want to check out some of my other Eagle-required merit badge guides. Anyway, thanks for being awesome and giving back to your community through Scouting. I hope to see you here again soon and, until next time, best of luck on your Scouting journey! 

Cole

I'm constantly writing new content for this website because I believe in Scouts like you! Thanks so much for reading, and for making this world a better place. Until next time, I'm wishing you all the best on your journey to Eagle and beyond!

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