How Christian families can grow closer family relationships
Since before we had children, my husband and I had a team mentality. It was us against the world. Once we had our children, we incorporated them into our team and have developed an attitude of family teamwork. Along with that, though, we also try to be intentional about family bonding and finding ways to make that happen — even when life is busy.
When it comes to family bonding, quality trumps quantity. Even during the pandemic and a year and a half of virtual school, my family had to be intentional about spending quality time together. We were together all the time, but we weren’t always growing closer as a result.
Of the various ways we spend quality time together, these are 10 of our favorite ways for family bonding.
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1. Play games.
Gaming is one of my family’s favorite past-times. My husband and I enjoyed games before had children and then were happy to play games with them once they were old enough. (Be sure to check out five of our favorite family games for small children.) Playing games together can be a great way to bond with the right attitude.
Another bonus to playing games together is it gives you a chance to teach lessons about how you can’t always win, and how to be happy for someone else we love when things go well for them. We’ve worked our way through some of these challenges and still do with one of our kiddos from time to time.
To keep competitiveness at bay, we also really enjoy playing cooperative games where the whole family works together toward one common goal. Role-playing games are often this way. One of our favorites with our kids now that they’re a bit older is HeroQuest.
2. Try new things.
Experiencing something new together can be great for family bonding. Whether you’re eating something new, doing a new activity or going somewhere new, doing something brand-new draws you closer as a family.
Recently, for instance, my daughter and I were alone for dinner while my husband and son went to a movie. We decided to try an Indian restaurant in our city that we had never been to. Neither of us had eaten Indian food before, so along with it being a new restaurant, it was also new cuisine. We learned together, which is a really neat thing to be able to do as a parent and child.
Our whole family tried geocaching together for the first time a couple of years ago. It was a fun way to connect as we searched for the hidden items in sometimes very common areas.
Any adventure you can go on together is going to draw you closer. You can do this by traveling far from home or just going a city over. It doesn’t have to be complicated or pricey. This year, we spent spring break spelunking in various caves in Kentucky. We also got to feed kangaroos and eat good food. Our trip resulted in good memories and a chance to draw closer.
Traveling together as a family helps you stay focused on each other because there are not nearly as many distractions as daily life. And it also helps your family learn to be more flexible. We’ve navigated feeding a picky eater, finding our way around a new city and surviving tent camping failures as a family.
4. Eat meals.
While some family bonding activities are more out of the ordinary, others are more commonplace. Eating dinner (or whatever mealtime works best for your family) together is great for bonding. Family mealtime allows us to talk about what’s going on in our lives. We talk with the kids about what happened at school. Sometimes we make plans for the week. Other times we have random conversations that spring up like what our most embarrassing moments are. We’ve even had deeper discussions about religion and politics at the dinner table.
If you can’t have dinner together every night, set a goal of however many nights are feasible for your family and do what it takes to make it happen. If dinnertime doesn’t work, then have breakfast or lunch together a couple of times a week. And don’t think it has to be fancy or elaborate. Serve up cold cereal for any of those meals and enjoy the time together!
Be sure to grab the “Favorite Recipes from Families with Grace” cookbook to help you come up with some tasty dinner ideas!
5. Go to church.
There’s something special about being at church together as a family. These days, my 10-year-old prefers to stay in service with us instead of going with the kids. Sitting together with my husband and children listening to them praising God together is awesome. It makes my heart swell with gratitude for my blessings.
If your children go to children’s church, then be sure to talk together about what they did and what they learned. We usually talk about the sermon together after church now that we are all hearing the same one. In fact, Sunday after church is our one regular time to eat out. So we both have a meal together and talk about church. It works well!
6. Have devotion time.
Growing in our relationships with God together as a family brings us closer. Whether you’re doing family devotions at Christmas or throughout the year, make time in your schedule to do some sort of devotional as a family. It doesn’t have to be every day. If once a week is what works for your family, then do that!
Right now, we are reading through “The Action Bible” a couple of nights of the week. After we finish reading a section (or two or three!), we just a bit about what happened and how to apply that to our own lives. For instance, my children were scoffing at how quickly the Israelites turned to worship idols and forgot what God did by getting them out of Egypt. Then we talked about how easy it is for us to get distracted from God even now. We may not being making golden calves to worship, but we do have to make sure we are prioritizing our relationship with God.
Get started today with the FREE family devotion book, “Finding Grace at Home: 7 Days of 5-Minute Devotions for Families.”
7. Read for fun.
Reading out loud together is a great way to encourage family bonding. We started reading to our 13-year-old when she was about 3 months old, and we haven’t stopped since. We’ve read through a variety of picture books and chapter books together. Our family has particularly enjoyed the Harry Potter books and The Mapmaker Chronicles books. My son and I are reading the Wings of Fire series together and really enjoy it as special one-on-one bonding time.
The fun with reading fiction together is your family has a chance to enjoy the story, root for characters, loathe villains and more together. My son and I even come up with our own role play of sorts for many of the books we read.
(For ideas on what to read, don’t miss more than 100 children’s books worth reading and family read aloud chapter books for kindergarten through 5th graders.)
Along with reading, we also started praying together with our children before bedtime when they were babies. That has continued to this day, and our kids are 10 and 13. Even though our daughter gets to stay up later than her younger brother, we have family prayer time every night. It isn’t elaborate and doesn’t have to be. Most of the time, our kids each say prayers out loud. Sometimes we do also.
Praying together helps our family draw closer. When we pray for each other, it helps strengthen our relationships as well. If one of us is sick or struggling and the others pray for that person, it’s encouraging. We also join together in prayer for friends and family.
Doing things together creates memories. Talking about those memories together can draw your family closer to each other and strengthen your relationships. There is something special about a shared memory or inside joke.
And, here’s the thing, you don’t even have to reminisce solely about the big things like vacations. Talk and laugh about the small everyday moments that nobody will forget. My family, for instance, laughs together about the time I came across mice in our garage and started yelling and ran back into the house faster than they thought I could even move. It was certainly a memorable moment!
Just be careful that in your reminiscing you aren’t putting down each other or hurting each others’ feelings.
10. Cheer for each other.
When you have a team mentality about your family, it’s even easier to cheer for each other. Cheering for each other can look like listening when a family member is talking about something he or she is passionate about. It can look like your whole family showing up for concerts, performances or games and cheering loudly.
Feeling happy for and/or proud of each other only increasing your bond as a family. We want to celebrate life’s wins together so that whenever something good happens to one of us, we all are excited. This encourages our kiddos (as well as my husband and me) to share our good news with our family. And that’s a good thing!