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!