As I was growing up, Sunday night was family game night in our home. Each week, my parents, my brother and I would gather around the game table to play favorites such as Monopoly, Score Four or Sorry!
As a kid, I enjoyed the weekly opportunity for amusement and healthy competition. But now as a parent, I recognize it wasn’t just fun and games. Family nights actually play an essential role in strengthening precious family bonds that might otherwise unravel in our busy lives.
A Family That Plays Together, Stays Together
Kim Fredrickson has 25 years of experience as a marriage and family therapist, and has spent the past five years as a certified parent and life coach in Roseville.
A noted authority on families, Fredrickson often teaches seminars on parenting and relationships for local churches and schools. She also has produced several CDs on marriage and parenting topics, and offers a weekly 10-minute podcast with timely audio lessons for families (kimfredrickson.com).
Fredrickson says she feels more strongly today, than ever before, about the need for families, with children of all ages, to establish dedicated family nights.
“In our society, everyone is so busy, with the kids involved in so many different things, there isn’t time to connect as a family,” she explains. “So having a scheduled family night that becomes a sacred family tradition – with no interruptions – is very centering and grounding for everyone,” says Fredrickson.
The Rewards of Quality Time
Through her work with countless families and teenagers, Fredrickson has seen that simply having a family night can have a dramatic impact, including:
Solidifying the Family Unit. A strong family connection and family identity helps kids and teens stand up better against peer pressure.
Giving Parents Time to Teach Values. Through concentrated family time, personal values like honesty, integrity and “giving back” can be reinforced. Without that, she says, value systems are solely built from school, peers and the media.
Building Emotional Closeness. Fredrickson sees this as the one area most missing in today’s families. Without an emotional connection, children tend to rebel more frequently.
Creating Family Fun. Families need to focus not just on rules, homework and chores, but on having fun too. Otherwise, families can feel more like corporations that are just getting the job done.
Making Kids Feel Valued. According to Fredrickson, kids and teens spell love “T-I-M-E,” and if they don’t get time from parents, they feel like they don’t matter.
Ideas for Family Nights
Cherished family nights can center on any activity your family likes to do together. Ideas include:
- Play board games
- Play card games – like Crazy Eights, Fish and Uno
- Build a large jigsaw puzzle
- Watch a movie together
- Hold a dance night or karaoke contest
- Look through photo albums or watch home movies
- Make dinner or bake cookies as a family
- Go for a family walk or bike ride
- Volunteer together at a local soup kitchen or retirement home
- Go bowling, miniature golfing or roller skating
- Enjoy a concert, musical or play
- Play video games (as a family!)
- Dine out at a favorite restaurant
Even if your family has never before instituted family night, it’s by no means too late to begin a treasured tradition. The priceless benefits of improved family closeness and connections will last your lifetime.
Popular Family Board Games:
- A to Z Electronic Board Game (ages 8 and up)
- Yahtzee Jr. (4 and up)
- Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? (8 and up)
- Cranium Cadoo for Kids (7 and up)
- Jenga (8 and up)
- Qwirkle (6 and up)
- Blokus (5 and up)
- Apples to Apples Kids (7 and up)
- Blurt (7 and up)
- Buzzword (10 and up)
- I Spy – Preschool (3 and up)
- Candyland (3 and up)
- All American Trivia – Jr. (9 and up)
- Ticket to Ride (8 and up)
- Rush Hour (8 and up)
- Boggle Jr. (3 and up)
- Poppo (4 and up)