Top 5 Reasons to Start a Family Game Night

A family that plays together, stays together

If your family is anything like mine, you have a lot going on. It’s terrifyingly easy to get caught up in the everyday river of motion and commotion and slip into an apathetic rut. Drive one child here, pick up another child there, pack a lunch, unpack the backpack, fold the laundry, clean the dishes, walk the dog, blah-blah-blah-blah.

Every family is busy, some much more than others. This is because families are comprised of individuals with lives of their own that sometimes, if you are lucky, intersect at the family dinner table or occasionally in the line to use the upstairs bathroom.

There has been a resurgence of interest in the traditional family game night. This can be attributed to, in no small part, our children apparently growing up much faster than parents would generally care fore. Kids are more likely to have cell phones than lunch boxes, keys to the car are provided earlier than ever, and school and social activities are more abundant and demanding.

This is great news for our kids but a sobering reminder that our children, whom we still remember with clarity the first day we brought them into the world, are literally growing up and moving out of our lives a little every day. A sad, sad fact, but also one we cannot fight or ignore, despite our best efforts. I, for one, celebrate my three boys’ growing independence. Some days not as much as others, but there is no denying the fact that my three little boys will one day be three taller-than-their-Dad men with families of their own and interests well outside the sphere of influence of their possibly overprotective Mom and Dad.

It seems rather cliché and stupid to say it, but we really do need to cherish the moments we have with our kids. My oldest is already not real keen on holding my hand in public and he’s only 6. I can’t but feel a little cheated on this point. I was hoping, at the very least, to be able to hold his hand well into this eighth year. <sigh>

Here are my top 5 reasons why I promote the family game night whenever I can. You might share some, all, or none of my reasons, and that is super cool.

#5: Bonding Quality Time

With my kids on the go, me spending more time at the office than in the home, and my wife running the house, we don’t get to really see each other as a family other than on the weekends. The family game night allows us all to sit down at the table, put the world around us on hold, and focus in on each other. This bonding quality time is absolutely fantastic. We all get to share our day, our interests, share stories, laugh out loud, and if time allows it, play a game or two.

#4: Promote Communication and Sharing

While eating dinner, I tend to carpet bomb my boys with questions. What did they do today? What did they learn at school? What did they have for snack? What was the favorite thing they did at recess? My kids really aren’t in the mood to humor their Dad and it shows. Answers to my questions are generally “I don’t remember”, “Not really”, and the ever popular non-verbal shrug. I could get a more decent two-way conversation with a talking parrot.  But at the family game night, my kids come to life. Playing a game is a welcome distraction from their everyday routine and they seem to open up more, engage me in conversation as much as I engage them, and then it hits you. What was missing from the conversation was common ground, a level playing field, and a shared interest. The kids didn’t want to talk about their day because it was over. Kids tend to live in the “here and now” while adults like to internalize and rehash the events of the day ad nauseum.  Introduce a game and you’ve got something new for everyone to focus on. And where there is focus, there is energy. And where there is energy, you will find a lively conversation.

#3: Fantastic Family Memories

During the day, your family will be broken up. Life events are not shared; moments lost to other family members. Family game night brings everyone together to share a common experience, a shared story told through the game. You’ll soon find yourself talking about “that time Dad should have moved 2 spaces ahead but didn’t and lost the game” or “that time we all thought Dad was going to win but he didn’t!”

Now that I think about it, these fantastic family memories almost always involve me loosing or doing something silly, and I couldn’t’ be happier about it. While I am obviously not Superman in my childs’ eyes, I can at least say that they think I am a super Dad. That’s really cool.

#2: Strengthen Social Skills

A confident child is a strong and happy child. Confidence is the keystone to everything. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, how pretty you are, how rich or poor you are. If you don’t have confidence, you don’t have much of anything. By interacting with your kids, you help them strengthen their speaking skills, their math and reading skills, their logical and critical decision making skills, and in the process of doing so, you give your child confidence. All this from just playing a game.

#1: Something We Can All Share, Together

A family that plays together, stays together. Honestly, you shouldn’t need any other reason, but a “Top 1 List” doesn’t really sell, does it. Still, and all kidding aside, I cannot imagine a better reason to play a game with the family. In this case, it can be any game. The game provides the experience that is the base on which you will expand and strengthen your families ties. Gender, age, and individual interests all fade away in the background. Grandma and Grandpa, Mom and Dad, Bro and Sis, everyone can be part of the same activity. Your family becomes recentered and refocused on what is important. Need a hint? The answer is “each other”. Awwww… Sappiness aside, as your kids get older, busier, and want to spend more time with friends than family, you’ll soon realize that any excuse to get the entire family together, even for just an hour or two, is going to be exceedingly rewarding.

Plus, you get to play games. Mega win.

If you are interested in starting a family game night, Hasbro has some excellent material to help you organize your first (of hopefully many) fun filled evenings with games, laughs, and family.

What? Did we miss something?

What reasons do you have for a family game night? Share them! Leave a comment and let the other readers benefit from your wisdom!

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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11 Responses to Top 5 Reasons to Start a Family Game Night

  1. Larri says:

    We love family game night! A lot of those family games also build critical thinking skills, because you have to develop a strategy to win. Right now, our favorite family game is Sorry! With 3 kids, ages 12, 10, and 7, they can all easily play this game. Thanks for the great post!

    • Cyrus says:

      Larri,

      Sorry! is a great game to play with the family. Sadly, I am usually the target my sons go after and I am beginning to believe they really aren’t all that regretful when they send my pawns back to the starting position. Oh, sure, they say sorry, but that mischievous little smile they give me when they say it makes me think there isn’t a lot of truth to it.

  2. Meng says:

    In a sense, every night is a family game night for us, but particularly so on many Saturday evenings when the grandparents join us for dinner, we take the opportunity to squeeze in a game after the meal.

  3. Brian says:

    With 2 & 3 yr old boys, I gotta say that family game night is a year or 2 off still, otherwise in about 10 seconds, the game is forgotten and the entire energy of 2 parents is spent doing the usual…keeping them from beating on each other.

  4. Jen says:

    I have just one young child (19 months) so obviously game night is not happening yet. I”m really looking forward to this in the future though! We love playing games!! Even the pastor at our church is starting to have game nights with their 4 teenage kids and he’s mentioned several times to the congregation how significant this is for their family!

  5. Cyrus says:

    Jen, it is never too early or too late to start a family game night, or in many cases, “whenever-you-can-find-free-time-to-play-games-with-your-children” time.

    The game you play does not have to include a board, card, dice, or miniatures to qualify. It is all about the quality time you spend with them and the personal interaction. Whatever game you play or activity you engage in with your child is nothing more than a fun means to a positive end. You could just as well sit down with your child and read a book or roll a ball back and fourth.

  6. Pingback: The Board Game Family » Game Giveaway on Father Geek

  7. Chris says:

    Hi Cyrus! FYI, I tried to +1 this page, but for some reason, I can’t.

    Keep up the great work!

    • Cyrus says:

      Thanks for your comment!

      If you want to +1 a page, you need to have a Google email account and use it when asked for a user ID.

  8. Pingback: Starting a Family Game Night | Dice Tower News

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