Families today are going a million different directions. Kids head out to school, dads and sometimes moms head off to work, and then of course there are piano lessons, soccer games, doctor appointments, church callings, Scouts, Young Women, Young Men … the list is endless. Everyone needs to be somewhere at a different time, and it seems as though the time we have to spend together is growing shorter every year as children get older.
How can we make the time we do have together even more meaningful?
1. Don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself to make it special. Most often, quality family time happens without advance planning. Those teaching moments that change the course of a teen’s journey occur when we least expect them. Instead of putting yourself through stress to plan the perfect evening with your family, stay relaxed and make yourself emotionally available. That will create an atmosphere which will encourage your children to open up to you more than any planning on your part could possibly accomplish.
2. Choose activities you enjoy as a family. We all have different hobbies, but as families, we also have common bonds that bring us closer together. Memories are created as we beat each other at Scrabble or put together jigsaw puzzles—whatever your family enjoys doing as a group.
3. Use this time to just enjoy each other. Now isn’t the time for lectures or discussions about how the teens need to get home on time or how Johnny needs to get his grades up. If you have some family time on your schedule, and it’s the only time you’ll all be together for that week, put the lectures to the side and concentrate on having fun. You’ll be able to talk to Johnny later, in private—you don’t need the whole family around for that.
4. Encourage the participation of all members of the family. If Susan would rather talk on the phone than spend time with the family, find an activity you know she enjoys and make that the chosen activity for the evening. (And then unplug the phone.) If Dad’s tired when he walks through the door, let him take a twenty-minute nap, and then encourage him to join in. There are ways to reach out and include even the most reluctant family member.
Families are so important. They are central to the Creator’s plan and we must do all we can to let our family members know we love them and to keep our relationships strong. Spending quality time together as a family is just one way to accomplish this, and with the Lord’s help, we can find ways to make it meaningful for everyone.
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