The Family That Plays Together, Stays Together

This may sound like an old cliche, but it represents a deep truth.  Whether it’s Monopoly, Rook, charades, spoons, hide and seek, checkers, chess, tag, poker, Balderdash, “apple shmear” (see Cheaper by the Dozen), backyard football, X-Box tournaments, Candyland, backgammon, bowling, Parcheesi, or Old Maid, playing together as a family encompasses several very important values:

Playing together communicates a high priority placed on other family members.  In our busy, overworked, overstressed culture, making time for family expresses a great deal of value to those in our household or family network.  Time is the most valuable commodity of our day.

Playing together gives us stability and structure.  When we make it a regular habit to play together as a family, it reminds us that even though we have our dissagreements and conflicts, we will always be a family and we will always make it together.  Today, more than ever, individuals desperately need a place of belonging.

Playing together teaches us to cooperate and resolve conflicts more effectively.  One of the great values of playing any kind of game together is that we are actively developing our relationship skills.  By playing together regularly, we must learn both to compete and cooperate in ways that contribute to healthy relationships.  If we don’t, our games will lose their fun in a hurry.

Playing together is a healthy alternative to “mindless” entertainment.  The evidence continues to pile up about the social, emotional, psychological, and physical prices we are paying, as individuals and as a society, for the large amount of time we spend engaged in electronic entertainment with little or no real human interaction or physical activity.  By turning off our screens, and engaging our family members in play, we are actively building healthier selves, families, and communities.

Playing together can really be fun!  When’s the last time you didn’t have fun playing freeze tag?!  Ever been bored during a water balloon fight?  Remember the thrill of rolling five 3’s and yelling, “YAHTZEE!!!”?  Many may find the idea of playing family games boring because it’s either been so long you’ve forgotten, or you’ve gotten so hooked on other forms of entertainment, you can’t imagine playing with your family could compete.  Try it.  If you commit to one family game night a week for a month, and haven’t had any fun after a month, send me an email and let me know.  (  I’ll schedule you a “fun consultation” session ASAP.

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