It takes wisdom to have a good family, and it takes understanding to make it strong.
Proverbs 24:3 (NCV)
One of my all-time favorite movies, is the 1989 classic Parenthood. In it, a struggling father played brilliantly by Steve Martin, is given advice by Grandma. With her rollercoaster story, she captures the essence of family building with all of its ups and downs and twists and turns – it is a thrilling ride that sometimes make us afraid, sick, and excited all at once. But, more than anything, we need to enjoy the ride.
Dr. Laura Markham states that the normal challenges of every day for a growing child of any age stimulates all kinds of feelings. Children release these emotions through play.
I find this to be true of adults as well. Fun is one of the most important family building blocks to master. So, let’s get started, the family that plays together stays together.
1. Expand your interests
Be interested in what your kids are interested in. Study your kids, understand them. Know how they learn, how they process emotions, and what they like. I now have an expansive knowledge of My Little Pony, Nancy Drew, Ninjago, and Minecraft. I have learned more about my kids from learning to be interested in what they are interested in and joining their world. It makes conversations go smoother, and the connections grow stronger.
2. There is no normal
Way too often, my unreasonable expectations of normalcy have made me a fun killer. It creates jealousy, disappointment, and the desire to control. I have had to leave my expectations of normalcy at the door and enjoy my family’s uniqueness. Who wants to be normal when you can be exceptional?
3. Create rituals
Rituals are things that only your family does. They create a sense of belonging. Ours range from Mad Libs, to Apples to Apples, and Jarrito’s Orange Soda to Dairy Queen. (We may need some that include a more healthy diet). Many center on dinner time. It gives us all something to look forward to, creates memories, and most importantly provides connection. Everyone knows, tough talks go a lot better over ice cream.
4. Open your doors
This works two ways. Open your doors, get outside and have some physical activity. Burn off some of that pent up energy. Also, open your doors and let others in. Building relationships with other families and other people creates new connections, new lessons, and fresh perspective.
Adding fun into your family is not just about enjoyment, but it is about understanding each other and being strong for all of the ups and downs that occur in life. So, strap in and enjoy the ride!