I am married to a Marriage and Family Therapist. Believe me, this has its drawbacks. For one thing, he is almost always right. This can be…unsettling…if I ever wanted him to bow to my unreasonable demands. Fortunately, I don’t make unreasonable demands.
The other problem comes in that he knows the futility of arguing, and sometimes I just want to indulge in a good argument! Selfish, really, that he won’t oblige me in this.
Other than that, though, the Counselor’s knowledge and passion for healthy families mostly comes in handy. For instance, we are currently living with three teenagers. In spite of the natural trials borne out of this season of life, these young people are relatively well-adjusted, highly capable and mostly pleasant (probably because they’ve grown up with free counseling). The perspective of a godly man who has worked with people in resolving personal crises–as well as worked through a few crises of his own–is beneficial.
Fairly early in our parenting, Counselor Dave and I determined that we would guard our time together as a family. We would control our schedules and not allow our schedules to control us. Over the years, this has required us to make a number of healthy, family-building decisions, some much easier to make than others. One of the fun, easy decisions we made, following Dave’s lead, was to institute a Family Night.
Initially, we prompted each child, then ages two, four and seven, to suggest a few outdoor and a few indoor things that they really liked to do here at home. Their suggestions included things like building with Lincoln Logs, watching a family-friendly movie, playing Blind Man’s Bluff and baking cookies. Dave and I added our own suggestions, and we put all of the ideas into a jar to be drawn out for Sunday Family Nights.
Now that the kids are older, we rotate through the family, each person getting to choose weather-appropriate activities for their turn. I usually prepare a fun, informal supper, like nachos, burgers or tacos and we quit whatever projects we’re working on by about 5:30 each Sunday evening. It is a rare exception that we are on the computer or even take a phone call or return a text once Family Night begins. If a Family Night falls on Mother’s Day or a birthday, then the honored person gets to choose the activity–or sometimes everyone else chooses an extra-special activity for the honored person.
I confess that not everyone is always thrilled with the chosen activity for the night (including myself). There have been driveway face-plants from bike rides, split lips from Pickle, complaints about Croquet, unending games of Monopoly, cries of “Not fair!” when Daddy vetoes a movie option in favor of an outdoor activity when the weather is nice. Our Family Nights have not created a perfect family; however, they have created opportunity for intentional time together to build relationships. Families are the foundation of every society. If our society is broken, we are reaping the consequences of our families being broken.
Whatever you choose to do this Mother’s Day weekend, I encourage you to make it a family-building activity. Invest in the people you love. Guard your time. Put away your phone. Plug in to one another. You may not have family in the area, and you may not have children, but you still have people around you that can be blessed by what you have to offer. Maybe you know of a broken family that could use a little building. Maybe now is the time to reach out.