10 Ways of Creating Family Connections for Building A Strong Family

Meaningful Family Connections: Why They Matter, and How To Create Them

Profile photo of Melissa Peduzzi - | 25 Aha! comments | Posted in category: Family & Parenting

10 ways of creating family connections for building a strong family

Do the quality of family connections matter?

An experience with my kids opened my eyes to the answer when I wasn’t really even looking.

Recently, I took both of our boys, ages 6 and 4, to the beach by myself.  Knowing how much energy they have and that I was outnumbered, I gave up any dreams of a relaxing day in the sun, and dove headfirst into a full day of sand castle building, wave jumping, creature catching, and everything else the boys could dream up.

By the end of the day, I was sandy, exhausted, slightly burnt, and most of all, happy.

And it was here that it hit me – my kids were so much more fun when I’m not distracted.

I spend so much “time with my family” half in the moment; half tending to my to-do lists or catching up on the Facebook drama that everything becomes a distracting interruption.

It’s no wonder that those strong family connections are passing me by.

Meaningful family time is hard to come by when we’re distracted and not fully present where we are.

Quality family time is essential to creating lasting family connections. These family connections in turn build strong family bonds that strengthen both the relationships in the family, as well as every other relationship.

Do you agree?

Do you know what’s keeping your family from growing together?

Family Time is Disappearing

We live in a fast-paced world.  With the ability to connect socially, shop, manage tasks and be entertained literally at our fingertips every waking second, a whole new world is opened, while it seems like an old one is lost.

Face to face connection is becoming a thing of the past.  Families are gathered around the dinner table staring at their phones and connected to the outside world while missing out on the most important connections right in front of them.

Cell phones aren’t the only cause of this decline of family connection, though.  There are so many things vying for our attention that our family can get lost in the shuffle.

After-school activities, work projects, hobbies, watching TV – the list of distraction is endless.  These things aren’t bad in and of themselves, and everyone needs time to fill up their cup.  However, with super-full plates, families are scattered and losing touch as every spare minute is filled.

Meaningful family connections are often lost as we rocket through life.  It’s easy to forget that this life isn’t about simply getting from Point A to Point B most efficiently, but rather the journey it takes to get there.

We crave connection and community – to be understood and loved for who we are, and have the chance to reciprocate – and we’re shortchanging our families when we allow things and activities to get in the way of this.

It takes purpose and resolve to fight for family connection.

Growing our relationships with our spouse and kids is such a gift we have been given, and we’re going to look at ways to embrace this gift to the fullest instead of overlooking it, or taking it for granted.

With a little resolve and planning, the fulfillment of meaningful family connection is worth the effort, as we live genuinely with those closest to us.

“Is this what family is like: the feeling that everyone’s connected, that with one piece missing, the whole thing’s broken?” ~ Trenton Lee Stewart

Why Family Connections Matter

Our family bonds are the building blocks for every other relationship in our lives.  We are around them the most, they have the most opportunity to see us at our truest self, and it is our opportunity to be vulnerable and still loved for (or in spite of) who we are.  Family is forever.

Children learn how to interact with others by watching their parents.  They see modeled everyday before them how to treat a spouse, how to raise kids, how to manage and resolve conflict, the art of compromise, and choosing to love.

This can be a lot of pressure for parents, who are often under the wire with deadlines at work and juggling one too many activities in everyday life.

When we take the time to establish these family bonds, it allows opportunities for your family to see your heart, and not just your busy, frenzied actions.  It reinforces that they are important to you – more important than everything else on the schedule.

Your family is encouraged, knowing that you want to get to know them better, you want to be a part of their lives, and you want to pursue a relationship with them.  Talk about a confidence builder!

When your family is connected, the rest of the difficult world is so much easier to deal with.  What really matters, what you’re coming home to at the end of a long, hard, day, is love.  These meaningful bonds provide the stability and steadfast loyalty in your life (and theirs) that sustains you.

“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” ~ Mother Teresa

Scheduling Family Time

Just like anything else important in your life, you need to write down family time on your calendar.  I know you’re busy.  You know you’re busy.  That’s why it is even more important to pick times and mark them on your calendar so they won’t get pushed out by all the other pressing activities!

Spend some time really thinking about what you want for a family time.  There is no right answer here – any time with your family that works in your schedule is what you need.

Some of these ideas (or any combination of these!) may work well for your family, or at least spark an idea for your family goals.

Ideas for Scheduling Family Time

  • 15 minutes each night after dinner for entire family time
  • Once a month weekend outings for entire family
  • One-on-one time with each kid at a set frequency
  • Date Night with Spouse weekly (at home dates are a great way to connect!)

Once you’ve decided together what you’re aiming for, sit down with the calendar and block out these times.  These are the most important commitments you will make when it comes to spending meaningful time together.

How can you grow closer if you’re never together?  By writing these appointments in your calendar, you are acknowledging the importance of your family to you.

Being Intentional

Once you have designated times on the calendar to spend connecting with your family, you then have to show up. It’s not enough just to be physically there, with your mind 1,000 miles away checking your mental to-do list or distracted by notifications on your phone.

With the time you do have with your family, you have to guard, protect, and be intentional with to find that meaningful connection.

Unplug from the rest of the world for a little bit and plug into your family, fully present.  Choose to actually hear the heart in what they are saying, and respond thoughtfully.  Choose to laugh and to love big.

These moments, however small, are your opportunity to build strong bridges to meaningful connection and strong family bonds.

If you’re used to only being half-there, this will take a lot of effort to start, especially if you are a multi-tasker.  Get rid of distractions, and really work on focusing on your family members.

Check in with yourself often to make sure you are fully present, and do everything in your power to be all there.  As you practice this, it will get easier each time!

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it.

10 Ideas for Creating Meaningful Family Connections

Here are some affordable, easy, and practical ways to spending purposeful family time together for building strong family relationships.

1. Phone-Free Zones

Block off times of the day where no electronics are allowed. Put them away where you won’t be tempted, and commit to connecting with the people right in front of you.

It might be hard and awkward at first (as cell phones have become almost a part of who we are!), but we have to remove the barriers before we can experience connection

2. Board Games

When everyone gathers around a game, it’s immediately a common denominator.  Add a competitive spirit and you’re set up for a fun night of bonding.  Here are some of our favorite choices for games based on ages:

  • Younger Children
    • Stone Soup
    • Chutes and Ladders
    • Candyland
  • Older Children
    • Ticket to Ride
    • Nertz
    • Would You Rather
  • Any
    • Tenzi
    • Spot It
    • Trouble

3. Take a Walk

Get outside and get moving together!  For boys, I’ve noticed it is easier to connect as they are busy doing something.  As we walk side by side, they open up and share their heart more.  Plus, the exercise is good for everyone!

4. Family Meal

Have one meal a day (or as often as you can!) where you all sit down together to eat.  If dinner isn’t possible because of all the activities you have in the evening, consider breakfast!

5. Take Turns Sharing a Hobby

Each member of the family has unique characteristics and passions.  Allow this to fuel some meaningful time together, as they share their heart about something they love, and you get to know them better, and you give it a try as well!

6. Fishbowl Questions

Write some thought-provoking questions on slips of paper, and take turns pulling one out and sharing answers.  Some great questions are:

  • If you could have a “do-over” on anything for today, what would it be?
  • If you could only pick one thing to do all day, what would it be?
  • What are your “highs” and “lows” for today?
  • If you could give yourself an award, what would it be for?
  • What are you thankful for today?

7. New Experiences

See the world!  This doesn’t mean you have to go to exotic locations to fulfill this – start with the world right around you.

Check out your local farmer’s market, parts of your city you’ve never seen, or a nearby attraction you’ve never visited.  Experiences are relationship glue, and you will have something to talk about for weeks to come.

8. Learn Something New Together

Try a new recipe.  Plant a garden.  Sample a new craft.  Read about another culture and practice their customs.

Learning together means you’re growing as people together, and it’s a lot more fun with other people!

9. Read Out Loud

Grab a book you’d all be interested in, gather around, and listen and discuss together.

Short chapter books like “The Magic Treehouse” or “Boxcar Children” series are great for younger kids, while the older kids can take the lead in selecting things they may be interested in!

10. Play Together

Laughter and play go hand in hand.  Wrestle in the floor.  Play freeze tag.  Run through the sprinklers.

Let loose and be a kid again, and experience the wonder of a child together – even if your kids are older.  They haven’t lost the ability to play – and neither have you!

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” ~ Jane Howard

Summing Up

No matter what you choose, any time you spend investing in your family is well spent.

These simple times creating family connection strengthen your family bond.

Be present, be YOU, and choose to connect with those closest to you.

You’re creating the most important bonds of your life, teaching your children how to relate to the world around them, and making memories that will last a lifetime.

Over to You –

Are you craving for more connection with your family but are unsure where to start?  What are your best tips for spending meaningful time together?  What one actionable thing are you going to do this week?  Share in the comments below.



Show Comments

25 Comments - Read and share thoughts

  1. Melissa

    May 9, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    Thank you so much for the opportunity to share – looking forward to hearing your thoughts and chatting more with you al!

  2. Profile photo of Philip Verghese Ariel

    Philip Verghese Ariel

    May 9, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    Hi Melissa,
    A very timely post!
    All need to think on this line,
    This post shares a wonderful message that we need to give our solid time to our family. But sadly its not happening mainly due to the advanced technology and the other connected development. As mentioned even in

    I fully agree with you that a quality family time is very essential to build a solid family relationships as well as that leads or strengthens other relationships too! . But sadly, this is terribly missing among us! This post really suggests some solid solutions to fix this problem.
    Whatever it is we need to make a great awareness among our own family members about its seriousness, and also should make aware about its bad implications in our families. This can be done by reaching different social groups as well as thru schools and colleges by conducting special awareness meetings for classes.
    This is indeed the need of the hour, otherwise our new generations will lose the family values in their life.
    Thanks Harleena for sharing Mellissa’s Guest post here to your readers.
    Thanks Mellissa for sharing this informative piece to the Ahaians and other readers here.
    I am sharing it thru my social circles.
    Best Regards
    ~ Philip

    • Melissa

      May 10, 2016 at 1:07 am

      Philip-

      Thank you for both your kind words and dedication to raising awareness about strengthening family bonds! Wishing you well!

  3. Carolyn Nicander Mohr

    May 10, 2016 at 12:17 am

    Hi Melissa, Welcome to Harleena’s place. Great topic and excellent suggestions about how to carve out family time. My girls are gone from the house now, believe me, it happens more quickly than you expect it too. I’m enjoying my empty nest, and a big part of that is because our family really did carve out family time.

    I made family dinners a priority and still make a nice breakfast on the weekends when everyone is home. These are the times you’ll remember.

    Electronics are forbidden at the table, whether at home or at restaurants. We don’t want outside distractions while we’re eating and conversing.

    I like your suggestions about conversations topics. We had Rose, Bud, Thorn.

    Rose: What is the best thing that happened today?
    Thorn: What was the worst thing that happened?
    Bud: What are you looking forward to for tomorrow?

    The good thing is that sometimes there was no thorn, but there was always a rose and a bud!

    • Melissa

      May 10, 2016 at 5:13 pm

      Carolyn- what an excellent suggestion with the “Rose, Bud, Thorn” conversations! I love this and will be adapting for our family. I appreciate you taking the time to read and leave a valuable comment- you have a lot of wisdom!

  4. Balroop Singh

    May 10, 2016 at 2:35 am

    Hi Melissa,

    I like the way you have broken time into fragments so that we can connect with our families. You have suggested wonderful ways of spending time together, which is truly practical if we decide to do so.

    While reading out aloud and playing is so much easy, often these moments are missed by parents due to their time schedules, especially if dads are working late hours. I think weekends should be assigned to dads in such cases.

    We connected with our cousins and our children with their cousins by playing a music game we called ‘Antakshi’ in which the other team had to sing from the syllable one team would end their song with. It was great fun and it still cherished by all of us whenever we get together!

    I like fishbowl questions too. They are so good at knowing each other! Thanks for the reminders. Thanks Harleena for introducing us to you. Have a lovely week.

    • Melissa

      May 10, 2016 at 5:15 pm

      Balroop,

      It’s so great to hear one of your cherished family traditions! They’re truly like glue- and we remember experiences and time over things every time! I really appreciate hearing from you!

  5. Sylviane Nuccio

    May 10, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    Hi Melissa,

    There is nothing like the family bound and it is sad that it seems to get out of the window these days. As a matter of fact, the computer and other digital device window that is.

    There’s also the fact that the family dinner is also a precious thing that’s getting rare these days. I can still remember lunches and dinners at home since I was a child and those are some of the clearest memories in my mind. I’m so glad I have them.

    Thanks you for sharing your wisdom.

    ~Sylviane

    • Melissa

      May 10, 2016 at 8:52 pm

      Sylvaine-

      You’re so right – we’ve become so busy these days, at the expense of eating together as a family! I’m so glad you have some great family memories – thank you so much for sharing!

  6. Donna Merrill

    May 10, 2016 at 10:37 pm

    Hi Melissa,

    Great to meet you here on Harleena’s place.

    When it comes to family, I do believe it is the most important network there is. In today’s world, it can get complicated. But we have to be intentional when it comes to family. No matter what kind of family unit there is in a household, the adults need to make meaningful time with children.

    I know that dinner time is a thing that has faded. When I was a child dinner was the most important time of the day. We sat around as a family and talked about the day we each had. Then, maybe a board game followed while someone did the dishes.

    We create memories. And what is more important than creating them with our loved ones?

    -Donna

    • Melissa

      May 11, 2016 at 9:07 pm

      Donna,

      You are so right – creating memories is what it is all about! It is quite a complicated endeavor with all the world has today, but one certainly worth pursuing! Great to meet you, and thank you for taking the time to comment!

  7. Stella Chiu

    May 10, 2016 at 11:25 pm

    Hi, Melissa

    Love your post. It is fact the family connections are decreasing because life get busier and busier. It is impossible to have all members together.

    Just like you said on the post, we must intentionally to schedule the time of together. We do that at dinner time. All must be present for dinner without texting, TV, or phones. Conversations concentrate around that day activities.

    Thanks for reminder the importance of family connections.

    will share!

    Stella Chiu

    • Melissa

      May 11, 2016 at 9:08 pm

      Stella – I’m so glad and encouraged to read that your family gathers together without distraction at dinner time! What a great investment! Thank you for sharing, and I hope you have a great day!

  8. Swadhin Agrawal

    May 11, 2016 at 10:45 am

    Hi Melissa,

    Nice post for making family bonds more stronger. In this digital age, when we don’ have the time to blink away from our smartphones, family bonding is surely at stake.

    Board games have the huge potential to bring back the lost family magic. I would also go for the family meals. It is the best thing we can do to spend half an hour or one hour a day together.

    Have a great week ahead!
    -Swadhin

    • Melissa

      May 11, 2016 at 9:10 pm

      Swadhin – thank you for your thoughtful comment! We’re always on the lookout for more fun games to play as a family – they are some of our favorite memories! Enjoy your week, and thanks for joining the conversation!

  9. Paully

    May 11, 2016 at 10:49 am

    I enjoyed your article very much Melissa. This is a topic that is close to my heart. I am a retired early childhood specialist but wasn’t ready to give up having children’s laughter in my life. So now I have a family day care in my home and it is such a joy to watch parents who cherish their children and carve out time to spend together. I never complain when a mother calls in the morning to tell me, “I am keeping _____ home today. I just want to spend time with him.” I encourage mothers to take advantage of their allotted sick (“Mental Health”) leave to spend time with their children as well as to have some quiet time for themselves. I also am an advocate for the family bed when mothers and fathers both have to work long hours.

    As for me, I returned to college for my teaching credentials when my children were young and I so regret that I did not do that before having children. Even though my ‘kids’ are in their early 50’s now, we are still learning ways to stay close. Thank you so much for the “Fish bowl” reminder. It is hard, as you say, with life moving so fast with its endless demands. And it demands our full attention, as you say, when we are together, in order to pay attention and really hear what is being said, to hear not only with the ears but with the heart as well.

    As busy as I am with the children in my daycare, the long hours, it is hard to give up the better part of a Saturday or Sunday for a family dinner, but ask me if I ever regret spending those hours together. No I don’t. We always gain from that together time.

    I have always felt that our relationships with family members are a life long courtship. There are times when we feel a bit distant and more effort is needed to open to each other. My daughters and I have always enjoyed long walks together and just as you said, there is something about the movement, or simply being outdoors, that opens up the flow of sharing our innermost feelings.

    Thank you for such a lovely article.

    • Melissa

      May 11, 2016 at 9:33 pm

      Paully – I can certainly hear your wisdom, and appreciate this comment so much! You are so right, too, in that you always gain from family time – even if it isn’t the easiest, most fun, or most convenient choice. It’s so wonderful to hear that you continue to pour into those family relationships and benefit from their flourishing! Have a wonderful week!

  10. Babanature

    May 11, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    Hello Melissa, and welcome to Harleena’s blog.

    You have put out some best tips to strengthen family bond and that’s gonna help a lot of people searching for family happiness.

    Indeed the tech world have finally taken most of our lives which push us away from family.

    Building a strong connection means being there always, put your family above all other things. There is just nothing like spending quality time with family.

    Thanks for dropping such awesome post and do have a faithful week ahead.

    • Melissa

      May 11, 2016 at 9:34 pm

      Babanature – you’re right, it comes down to priorities! Thank you for taking the time to read and respond, and I hope these tips benefit you! Have a wonderful week!

  11. Profile photo of Ilka Emig

    Ilka Emig

    May 13, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    Hi Melissa!

    Thanks for a lovely and timely post. It is really necessary to have times where you give your kids full attention and make them feel that now all that counts is them.

    We have at least one meal per day together – and it is precious. No electronics allowed at that time. It is when the kids tell about their day at school, the goods and the bads and the funny parts as well. It is usually the time where we are most silly and where we laugh a lot. I think laughing with your kids is just precious.

    All the best to you, Ilka

    • Melissa

      May 13, 2016 at 10:35 pm

      Ilka- I love the reminder to laugh with our kids! I find when I’m stressed, I don’t laugh nearly as much as I should. Laughing all together is a great way to connect. Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment!

  12. Shawn Lim

    May 17, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    Hi Melissa, thank you for this meaningful and amazing article.

    I love it. In Chinese, we have a saying, “Success starts from home”, it is where everything begins. And like the quote you have mentioned above, peace starts from home too.

    I can’t stress how important it is to have a strong and intimate relationship with our family. Anyhow, your post sums it all too well. 🙂

    • Melissa

      May 18, 2016 at 12:18 am

      Thanks for your kind comment, Shawn! I’m so glad to hear you value family relationships too! All the best to you!

  13. Louis Lh

    May 30, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    Well I mean most people choose to build a relationship with their friends they just ignore the real important one, which is so sad to see this happen. But thanks for this article.

    • Melissa

      June 6, 2016 at 8:55 pm

      Thanks for reading, Louis – you’re right! It takes intentionality to invest in these important family relationships, but it’s worth it!




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10 Ways of Creating Family Connections for Building A Strong Family

by Melissa Peduzzi time to read: 8 min