The 21st century brings changes and challenges for the American family. Some would say those changes are a good thing. While others will mourn the loss of traditional ideas about what constitutes a healthy family. But regardless of where you land on the social and political spectrum, it is tough to deny that it has become harder for families to bond as a unit.
With everyone in the family having more individuality and agency, the ties that bind us appear strained. We have different activities and schedules, different diets, different meal times, different ideas of what a meal even is, and different social communities.
Everyone in the family is being pulled in different directions all the time. Speaking of time, it is something families seem to have less of together. That doesn’t mean that family bonding is hopeless. It just means that we have to try a little harder with the little time we have together. Here are a few tips for how to make the most of it:
Bonding Over Sports
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Bonding over sports teams is a family tradition that goes back as far as memory itself. One of the ways to get the family on the same team is to get them all youth baseball socks that actually represent the same team. When the whole family shows up at a softball game, they can all arrive wearing team colors. If you have more than one kid playing softball, and for a different team, you are going to need more socks.
It is not just for those families with kids who play sports. Once in a while, you can sit down and watch a game together either live or televised. But it becomes an event when everyone puts on their team colors and does a little backyard tailgating. Because whether you cheer for the same team or opposing teams, you are cheering as a family. And team family always wins.
Watch Your Favorite Show Together
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These days, everyone has their own personal TV in the form of a smartphone, tablet, or PC. No one gets overruled when it is time to pick a show. That is because everyone can watch their own shows whenever they like, and do so at their own pace. That is actually a good thing. But it doesn’t mean that the family can’t come together once a week for one show that they watch together.
Picking which show to watch as a family is the hard part. The best TV shows for teens are not necessarily the best shows for the whole family. There will be more restrictions on what little ones can watch. Star Trek has a new series after what seems like forever. They have a history of dealing with mature themes in a sensitive way. It ultimately doesn’t matter which show you watch. It just matters that you watch something together.
Play Through a Video Game Together
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One of the interesting trends in video games is the story as a game. Fire watch is a good example of the genre. These games can be played as a group of people making decisions. Each decision affects the outcome of the game.
There are also group play games such as Mario Kart. Up to four people can play at the same time on the same machine. One of the reasons the Wii was so popular with families was that it offered easy to play experiences that the whole family could pick up and enjoy. Parents could join the kids in making custom avatars.
You can also take those gaming opportunities to teach the kids some of your favorites from a time when games did not require screens. Parcheesi is fun for all ages. Moving the pieces around a monopoly board is always a winner. And dominos as stood the test of time. The number of great card games you never heard of far outweighs the ones you know. Grab a book of Hoyle and a deck of cards and learn some of them together.
Families can still form tight bonds even in the 21st century. Sports, TV, and games are done differently today. But they can still be family affairs.
Featured Image Source: Flickr