by Tamera Lynn Kraft
In the “Leave It to Beaver” days of the 50s and 60s, almost every family sat down to eat dinner at 6:00. Nobody would call or stop by during dinner, because it was the dinner hour. With the busy lives we live, dinner hour is a thing of the past. That’s sad because we need time each week for the family to get together.
When family nights done right, they help families stay close and connected, and create memories children will always remember. But if don’t set up some ground rules ahead of time, family nights can become disasters your kids will remember for the wrong reasons. Here are seven ground rules to help you establish quality time with your family.
1. Attendance is mandatory. Nobody is allowed out of family night, not even parents. Family night is sacred. You need this rule because if you start making exceptions, there will be no family night.
2. Activities are planned. It doesn’t matter what your family does for family night. You could play board games or go bowling. If your family is active, you could go rock climbing or bicycling. The important thing is to do an activity together everyone can participate in.
3. No together alone activities allowed. There are certain activities that don’t allow families to connect. This happens when the members of the family are together, doing the same things, but they don’t interact with each other. Among activities off limits for family night are television watching, going to the movies, and playing video games. Plan activities where everyone is engaged with each other.
4. No arguing allowed. Set up ground rules with kids ahead of time that during family night, no squabbling, arguing, or fighting will be tolerated. Parents, this goes for you too. Family night is not the time to discuss your children’s bad grades or misbehavior.
5. Let children talk. Many times, parents talk to the children, telling them what to do, without allowing the children to talk. Tonight is the chance for children to share what’s going on in their lives without a lecture.
6. Start with a devotion. This is the best way to start a family night. Let the children know that God is the center of your family. If you’re creative, you can plan family nights with activities that go with the devotion.
7. Have fun. If a child complains that he doesn’t want to do the activity or he’s bored, remind him no pouting or sour attitudes are allowed. Everyone is expected to participate and have fun. Be very firm about this. There is nothing that can ruin a family night like a child acting like he doesn’t want to be there. The attitude spreads like wildfire.