A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Just Family Day?

Posted on: February 18, 2013

The province of Ontario marks Family Day today. A holiday created because…well, probably because there was no holiday this month. Family Day is supposed to bring families together.

One day is not going to cut it.

Despite our culture’s debate about the value of “quality time,” my experiences as a parent tell me the quantity of time we spend with our kids is underrated. Study after study shows that kids are more likely to thrive if they have a good relationship with their parents. And relationships take time.

The Catechism has a lot to say about families, including the following:

The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honour God and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initiation into life in society. (s. 2207)

Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God. (s. 2226)

Thinking about my childhood, it’s not just special occasions that come to mind; it’s things like sitting down to meals together, shopping with my mom for back-to-school clothes, and getting help from my dad with geometry. The time my parents spent with me gave them the chance to share their values and beliefs with me and teach me important life skills.

If we reserve family time for a special day, opportunities to teach our kids values, share our faith with them, guide them in discovering their vocation, and prepare them for life on their own will pass us by.

We can keep our families strong by regularly spending time doing everyday things together. And family time doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Here are some examples from our house.

After-school talks. Some kids want to share at dinner time; my son, being 12, is too busy eating. But he “downloads” right after school while he enjoys a snack. I get to hear about his classes, classmates and upcoming projects.

Chore time and car trips. Spending time sorting my son’s outgrown clothes, delivering the local newspaper together, or driving to taekwon-do lessons gives us a chance to talk. Now that he’s practically a teenager, new conversation topics have opened up, such as favourite music, career choices and social media.

Family dinners. Making simple dishes like pizza, pancakes or fajitas together can be great family time. My son thinks it’s funny that I can’t cut straight and that his dad claims to be a master chef, and we get to marvel at just how much he can eat.

board games

Some of my family’s board games

Game night. As you can tell from this picture, we play board and card games, and we also like tabletop games. (My lack of hand-eye coordination and thrill over every point I do score usually make these games fun for my son.) And since my son is an avid gamer, we play video games too. Sometimes we borrow games from the library; we also check the sale bins at electronics stores and the grocery store.

Movie night. Always a hit at our house. I keep an eye out for good movies in the discount bins when I’m shopping and check the movie channels for things I can tape. We’re happy to watch favourite movies over again (my son and I like to quote lines from Monsters vs. Aliens, for one), but watching a few minutes of a so-terrible-we’re-glad-we-didn’t-pay-for-this movie also gives us a chance to laugh together.

Sports. My son is athletic, so he’s happy to play hockey, soccer or football in the park; swim at the rec centre; go for a bike ride around the neighbourhood; or take taekwon-do classes with his dad. Even playing badminton in the backyard and getting the bird stuck in the net is good family fun.

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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