Build Family Bonds: Life Lessons from Family Game Night

As teens stretch their wings and start functioning farther and farther from the family unit, some parents struggle both with letting go and with finding ways to entice their teens back into the nest for a little family time.  The bonds created by shared experience are just as important to teens as they are to toddlers. If your family has children of different ages, one of the best ways to have fun as a family is to have family game night.

Family game night provides the one thing you need to entice your teen, fun.  It may not be the kind of fun that comes from holding a controller or looking at a laptop, but it may be enough to get them to the table.  Once the game starts, your teen’s competitive nature and the sense of family togetherness will keep them coming back for more.  While the main goal is spending time having fun together, family game night also offers some valuable life lessons that everyone, even Mom and Dad, can benefit from.  As an added bonus, you might make a lifelong memory or two as you battle over the Monopoly Board or trounce each other at Trivial Pursuit.

According to Scholastic.com, the lessons learned on family game night don’t come from playing the educational game with the highest teacher rating or from stocking the shelf with every new game on the market.  The lessons about life are taught in small ways just by playing a game together.   From how to communicate to taking turns, these life lessons serve as good reminders for everyone in the family and reinforce important messages that many teens need to hear.

Lesson 1: Play by the Rules

Life is like a board game in that there are specific rules that everyone is expected to follow.  In life, these rules are represented by laws, company policies, school policies, and family expectations.  During family game night, when you play a board game, it is easy to see that when everyone plays by the rules, the game runs smoothly and everyone has the same chance to win or lose.  This is an important message for teens whose world is often too complex for them to see that they same thing is true.  When everyone follows the rules, things run smoothly and everyone has the chance to win.

Lesson 2: Learning How to Win and How to Lose

One of the most valuable lessons that playing games together during a family game night can teach younger children is that sometimes they will win and sometimes they will lose and they are okay, either way.  It doesn’t matter which as long as they do their best and take their win or their loss gracefully.  Many teens and their parents can benefit from revisiting this lesson.  At the end of the day, everyone has days where they are the winner and everyone has days that they are the loser and remembering that can make it easier to be thankful for the wins and to let go of the losses.

Lesson 3:  What Comes Around, Goes Around

In a board game, just like in real life, if you make a move that knocks your brother back to start, it is very likely that he will be looking for a chance to do the same to you.  If you slip your sister a get out of jail free card just because she needs it, she is more likely to spot you a $100 to buy a little plastic house on your property.  It is one thing to say that you should do unto others as you want them to do unto you; it is another to see your sister’s sadness at losing the game after you sent her back to start every time you could.

To get your family excited about family game night, pick a date and then have everyone nominate a game or two to be played.  Hand out voting tokens as the night approaches and let everyone vote for the games they want to play.  The two or three games with the most votes make the cut.  Make sure you have some great snacks on hand and let the family set the flow and pace of the night.  Focus on having fun with your family and you will be amazed at what everyone learns along the way.

 

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