talk to me (family life)

I’ve read some really great and insightful things this week, in the scriptures, in The Ensign and in a yoga book, by Baron Baptiste. I’m formulating some thoughts to share with you next week.

In the meantime, I’d LOVE to hear from you.

Family Holding Hands and Walking on the Beach
image source.

What are the top three things you do to strengthen/unify your immediate family relationships inside your home?

“things” here is wide open — could be anything from specific activitites to values you teach, or rules, rituals, traditions, expressions you practice. Could be a one time thing, something you’ve done for years or something you’re just putting to the test.

There is so much that we can learn from each other, so if you feel comfortable sharing, please do!



  1. lets see,
    1. have dinner as a family every night!
    2. make sure I actually listen to the members of my family when they are talking to me.
    3. hug, kiss and tell them I love them all the time!!

  2. 1. tell them I love them every day. We never part or hang up the phone without saying it.
    2. never be judgemental.
    3. really listen to what they say.

    Love what you’re doing with your new blog Stacy! This is a wonderful idea!

  3. Molly McCarthy says:

    1. We play a board or card game at least once a week.
    2. We turn on music (really loud) and clean for 30 minutes. Most of the time it ends with giggles and a sense of accomplishment.
    3. Quality Control. In our family this is an inside joke that has continued for over four years now with no end in sight. It makes us all laugh :D)

  4. 1. I told my boys they must be best friends, others may come and go but only your brother will be there forwever. Therefore I have never allowed my sons to physically fight each other.
    2.We sit around the table and eat together at least once per day, sometimes all it takes is a mug of tea and some biscuits to spark some meaningful cvonversations.
    3. We try to do a cheap weekend getaway once a month where there is no tv or cell phone reception and we get to actually enjoy one another’s company, playing cards, popping popcorn and board games.
    My children are 16, 13 and 10 and I realise that we only have 2 or so years left while we can “force” the oldest to still do family things and we need to make the most of this time.

  5. I only have a hubby and a dog so my responses are a little different. =)

    1. When I get upset with my DH, before talking to him I do my best to walk away and take a deep breath and try and decide if it’s really worth being upset and arguing about. Most days it’s not. And I’ve calmed down enough to tell him what’s bothering me without getting upset.
    2. Hugs and kisses and saying I love you a lot.
    3. It’s the little things that really matter – and taking time to realize all the little things he does for me and being appreciative.

  6. 1. We say I love you a lot. Even when we are having tough times we tell each other we love them.

    2. Although it is getting harder to do, we try to have dinner together. With the kids being 17 & 19, with school, sports and work it is hard, but if you are home at dinner time, you sit and eat with the family. If there is a boyfriend or other friend present, they join in.

    3. Especially lately, I have been trying to do something little with my kids to keep connected. Since they are growing into their own lives, I want to stay connected. My daughter and I like to scrapbook together (sometimes her boyfriend comes along, he likes to scrap too!) With my son, we make a point of watching a new tv series that we both like together. Yesterday while my daughter and I were at a crop, he caught up on watching some show on the DVR, but he saved “our” show until I got home and we watched it together.

    I am totally loving your blog Stacy. It is a bright, happy spot that always makes me smile. Thank you for sharing with us.

  7. We believe that a stong marriage carries over to a strong, close family. Here are some thins we have done over the past 20 years of marriage with our three chidlren, now ages 16,14 and 13.

    1.) We eat all meal together at the dining table. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. While this is getting harder as the children and our activities take us away from our home, we move dinner to an earlier time or lunch to a later time. Breakfats is early, before Dad leaves for the office. We end our day together at the table, having a snack or cup of tea or just a glass of water. We TALK.

    2.) Mom and Dad have a date night every week. This is a non-negotiable, immoveable date night. This instills in our children the foundation to cherish those you love.

    3.) We got to church/worship as a family. We start each day with prayer and gratitude.

    4.) We have family time every single day. Sometimes it is discussing events in the newspaper or upcoming events. We play a game together, or a video game. Sometimes we watch an old television show on streaming Netflix – our last one was Mork and Mindy. :-) Sometimes we watch movies together.

    5.) We have a planned family activity 2 times a month. We go bowling, to the movies or a theme park.

    We have an awesome family, and we remind each other how cherished and loved her or she is to everyone!

  8. The top 3 things that we do for our family is: 1) We always eat dinner together, whether that is at the table with a nice feast or watching Wheel of Fortune with sammies. :) 2) We ALWAYS kiss each other and the kids good night. 3) It is a rule that no matter what type of mood we are in…a hug is always welcome. :)

  9. Besides worshipping together, which is increasingly difficult to do with grown children who don’t live nearby and work schedules, we PLAY together at every opportunity. We plan weekend outings around activities our boys have always enjoyed. We TRAVEL together as much as possible. Time away from home and everyday stresses allow us to spend time in convesation and enjoying one another’s company. We CHERISH the time we are able to spend as a family because it is becoming very difficult to schedule. Enjoy the time with your children now…it won’t be as easy to get later.

  10. we do our best to have dinner together, sometimes my husband’s job interupts but we do try.

  11. Elder Jensen of the 70 was at a special Stake Conference today in Walla Walla and he said they have found through researching different family activities (including FHE) that the single most important activity is having family dinner together! I’m so glad we have made this important in our home.

    Other things we do include daily scripture study as a family, playing together and attending events as a family (if one child has a soccer game, we try hard to have the whole family there cheering.)

  12. Vanessa Lewis says:

    1) We read together. All of the time. My kids will often pull out favorite books for me to read to them (12 month old included), but we also have a longer book that we’re reading as a family. Right now, we’re reading Charlotte’s Web. My boys (6 and 3) are mesmerized by it. I’ll often read chapters during the day by request, but we always read one at bedtime right before scriptures and prayers. In addition to the snuggling that inevitably takes place during reading, it gives us something in common to talk about.

    I remember talking with a mom of teens a few years ago, and they had stayed up the whole night with her while she read the new Harry Potter book to them. I decided that I wanted that for my kids in their teens (that’s my hope at least), so I’ve been working towards that since.

    2) We normally have a family outing on Saturday. Sometimes it’s a museum, often it’s the beach. This week, it was the library and a small display of retired airplanes.

    3) We make creative projects together–this month, we made a birthday banner for the baby, some handprint art for gifts, and the Thankul tree that we’ve been filling with leaves in our hallway. They love baking with me, too.

  13. Our worship time each night is called FAMILY TIME. During this time we read, pray, and talk about the best and saddest things that happened that day. My daughter is five, and i hope to instill open roads of communication between us. We have WEDNESDAY PANCAKE NIGHT (with sprinkles, or course :). This is a big hit. We also have FAMILY MEETINGS that anyone can call. We recently had a family meeting where we discussed the new habit where my child thinks it’s OK to get everyone up at 0430…

  14. 1) We go to church every week together. 2)We eat dinner together every night…even if it’s take-out. 3)We pray together before bed time, and always get good night kisses. 4)Oh…is it okay to do more than 3? We make it clear that mean words are not to be directed toward each other in this house. It’s not acceptable. (Not that it never happens…but that’s our clear expectation.) 5)We play together at least a little each week.

  15. Lynn in FL says:

    1) Spend time each day recognizing and giving thanks for our many blessings.

    2) Looking for ways to help those less fortunate.

    3) Never let a day go by without telling your family members they are loved.

    We don’t always achieve these, but they are daily goals to work toward.

  16. 1. Eating dinner together every night, mostly at the table together, but sometimes in the family room in front of a good movie.

    2. Reading together. Devotions at breakfast, history or something fun (my oldest daughter is reading “The Hobbit” by JRR Tolkien to us right now) at lunch, and something Dad choses after dinner (“Killing Giants, Pulling Thorns” by Chuck Swindoll lately).

    3. Now that my children are older, I have a special time with each of my daughters once a week. We do a Bible study together, one that they have picked, and once every few months go out for coffee just for fun. When my kids were young, I had “my mommy time” with each of them once a week. They picked the activity and we did it together. My husband has a special time with our youngest son each week also. Our oldest two boys are out on their own, so we try to touch base with them once a week to see how they are doing. Good relationship building times!

  17. There are lots of things, but the one that stands out right now is encouraging my 12 year old to maintain a relationship with his 8 yo brother and 4 yo sister. As he is entering his teens, he is starting to pull away a bit, as he should, but I want to make sure he doesn’t become to much of a distant presence in their lives.

  18. We have a few family traditions:

    1) My husband is my best friend, so I go to him with everything I need to discuss or with thoughts and ideas I have. He does the same with me. We have been married 21 years so I guess it’s wotking.

    2) We are honest with our children. If they ask us the hard questions it is my job as a parent to give the the turth no matter how hard or harsh that may be.

    3) We eat as a family, maybe not every night with everyones schedules, but when we do we talk. If we are not eating together that night I make a point of talking to each child individually at some point in the day.

    4) Time in the car is talk time. It is when I find out whats up. I have found that it is when my kids will talk to me the most openly and honestly.

    There are several others but those are the most important to us as a family.

  19. 1. we pray together every night.

    2. work together on family projects- (i.e. clean the garage, yard work, ect..)

    3. Eat dinner together.

  20. Eating together seems to be a bit of a theme, I believe it is very important thing to take the time out to be together even if only for a brief time while sharing a meal. Chores is another thing I believe brings a family together (now my kids may not agree with this,lol) it is important for each member of the family to feel they are contributing even if it just in a small way. And last but not least is hugs, with three teenage boys and one preteen in the house life often gets very rowdy and busy and a simple quiet hug often says so much more than words can(and yes they do all still give their mum a hug, even in public :-) Oh and that wasn’t the last thing, I do try and make time to do something that is unique to each child, whether it be as simple as a tv show we watch together and chat about afterwards or taking interest in a hobby they may have.

  21. I feel so much better when we pray together.

    I also like looking forward to something.

    It can be as simple as our favorite TV show coming on.

    It can be saving for a big purchase.

    A trip.

    A renovation.

    Just that common goal and how we are all excited about it brings us together that much more.

    When the kids play sports, that’s fun, too!

  22. Isabel Roberts says:

    1. We pray together and for each other.
    2. We have a family devotional time in the evening.
    3. We read many books toghether throughout the day.

  23. 1. We also try to have dinner together every night.

    2. Hugs and kisses goodnight- even from my teens. Don’t go to bed mad!

    3. Dates once a month with my husband and rotating dates with one of our 4 boys each month. I would love to take them all out each month, but realistically 1 per month insures each of them get 4 dates a year with mom and 4 with dad. It works because we have not set the bar so unrealistically high. We have kept it up for years now.

  24. I work at home so I”m here when my daughters get in the door everyday. We go through their backpacks and talk about their day.

    We eat supper together. We will do all 4 of us, but my husband doesn’t usually make it home for supper. So then it’s the 3 of us.

    If my husband makes it home before the girls’ bedtime he tries to play a card or board game with them. They love it since they see him so little. I don’t usually play, it’s special time for the girls with their dad, I do everything else with them.

    My daughter and I, my sister and her daugthers (and husband after work) go to my parents’ farm every Saturday. We used to go to my maternal grandparents every Sunday and my cousins were there. My girls’ also have sleepovers frequently at grandma’s (either together, if I’m doing something. Or seperately).

  25. As parents of a 5 and 2 year old we are trying to incorporate more formal sharing time. I heard a speaker from Faith Inkubators at our church and we have been using the Faith Five (Faith Acts in the Home) sharing method and it is working wonderfully! Here are the five steps:

    1. SHARE highs & lows of the day

    2. READ and highlight a verse of Scripture in your Bible

    3. TALK about how the verse relates to your highs & lows

    4. PRAY for your highs & lows, for your family, and for the world

    5. BLESS one another

    We started this when our son was 4 years old and it provided a great window into his thoughts. You can read more info here:

    In addition, at dinner we discuss how we have each helped someone that day. Finally, we have ‘First born Fridays’ and ‘Second born Saturdays’ throughout the year. This started as a time for each parent or both parents to have designated time with each child. Now, if it can’t be a Friday or Saturday we try to have ‘buddy dates’. We know that this is fun and easy with little kids but we plan on continuing this relationship time when our children are in adolescence to maintain a connection with them.

  26. We made a decision when our boys were young (they are now 18 and 20) that
    we would not have them in any activities that required a lot of travel. We felt
    that their childhoods go by so quickly and we didn’t want the family apart
    on a regular basis, especially the weekends.

    Traditions are incredibly important, they ground children and show them
    where they come from and that they belong. The traditions may change as they grow up but they will always have the memories. We have quite a few family traditions
    and our boys love them.

    My husband and I have always treated each other with respect and never ever
    yelled at each other or put each other down or spoke badly of each other to
    our children. It is damaging to the relationship and to the children and the family

  27. We make sure we eat dinner together. We LOVE going to baseball games as a family. Also, we make time to play games with the kids – their choice.

  28. We are a family of four: me, my husband, and two daughters aged 10 months and 3 years. So, relatively speaking, we are still new at creating our togetherness traditions, but here is what we do so far.

    1. We have dinner together every night (and often breakfast and lunch, too), around the kitchen table. We talk and listen.

    2. Storytime before bed, and also throughout the day. I have a rule that I never say no if my daughter asks me to read a book (unless it is bedtime and we’ve already read three!).

    3. Morning waves. When my husband goes off to work, we all gather at the window to wave to him. My 3 yr old stands, I kneel down and help my 10 mo old stand, the two dogs come over, and we all wave (well, the dogs just look cute, they don’t wave) and my husband rolls down his window and waves and blows kisses as he drives away.

  29. One thing my family and I do is the Grocery Shopping together. Since we all live in the house and it is nice to share the chores, we go as a family. It’s just an extra way our family spends time together.

  30. We do so much together I had a hard time choosing three, but one thing I look forward to every single night is reading to my 11-year old son. He reads on an adult level and goes through more books than I do in addition to the reading he’s assigned for school, but we enjoy having that time together each night. ~Flora

  31. This is a wonderful post Stacy and I love all that I’ve read so far! We make “family time” sacred and a priority. With our busy lives and schedules, I have learned that if we don’t create time to simply be together, it is difficult to make it happen. This is time for us to play, laugh, listen, and learn from each other. It includes things like dinner as a family, Family fun dates, and creating together (whether a recipe or an art project). In our home, everyone has a voice and every opinion matters….we talk a lot!! We encourage and celebrate each other as often as we can.

  32. I read some time ago that strong families have their own culture and that every culture has hallmarks – one of which is a shared language. We started EARLY in our marriage to have our own words…that has now expanded to nicknames…Our son is only three and already recognizes that he is “Bug,” daddy is “Babe,” and Mommy is “Mama.”

    We also have dinner together 5 nights a week. On those other two nights, there are his-n-hers Bible studies and so we have special one-on-one time on those nights. Sometimes its just cold sandwiches, but we sit at the table and eat and talk together.

    Lastly, we have a bed time ritual that involves a devotional, prayers and reading the Bible. Its remarkable how this kind of daily ritual binds us together and settles each of us in for the night.

  33. Christine H says:

    1. We have dinner together most nights.
    2. We go to church together, volunteer as a family to be greeters once a month (say hello to everyone coming in, help those with special needs get to their seat, hand out the weekly bullentin as everyone leaves) and pariticpate in church functions like the chili cook off (we took second place!)
    3. Hugs and kisses regularly- my 13 year old son comes straight to my office and gives me a kiss when he walks in the door from school- such a great blessing for me!

    Goal for the coming year- to spend more time as a family reading scripture together.

  34. 1. Always say I love you every day to each other & never hang up with a family member or best friends without telling them!
    2. Have dinner together with our youngest every night.
    3. Have the grown kids & grandkids over for dinner as often as possible.

  35. 1. Our boys are still very little, with my oldest being 2 1/2 and new 3 month old baby. The number one thing that seems to strengthen our home is to stop and focus on nothing but them. Playing tractors, trucks and motorbikes across the couch, reading our artillery of books over and over again, making funny faces and noises, singing fun songs. I’m always amazed at how stopping and just getting on thier level, doing the things they enjoy (even the new baby!) helps us all to feel better connected!

    2. Communication! Saying ‘I love you’ and ‘I appreciate you’ without any hesitation. Communicating our emotions is something we make sure to do at will so that it never gets uncomfortable.

    3. Exercising faith and the power of positive thinking. We encourage optimism in each other and our little boys. We tell each other life is good and that our trials are just strengthening us, so bring it on! In line with this is the fact that we don’t permit name calling or rude behavior- we are working to teach our boys to think of others besides just themselves, especially their own family members.

  36. Our schedules are packed, and my husband is a workaholic. So, these are the family groundrules:

    1. We eat dinner together every night. No matter how late, no matter what is being served, no matter how many snacks you’ve eaten beforehand.
    2. We take turns saying grace before dinner. And no one ever forgets whose turn it is — even our 4-year old!
    3. We play Wii on the weekends! All levels of skill encouraged!

  37. We all eat breakfast and dinner together.
    We support each other by attending everyone’s sports events or performances together.
    We try to do a lot of activities together as a family, including Friday night movie nights w/ popcorn.
    At the holidays, we make lots of treats and cookies, and deliver trays to friends and family.

  38. Well,
    1. My grown-up daughter and her husband come to eat at our place every Sunday.
    For those who cannot make it:
    2. I call to my other daughter and her family every Sunday (they live in another city).
    3. I call my son and his wife every Sunday too (they can’t make it due to work).
    4. I call my mom every Sunday (she lives far away).
    5. I talk by skype with my sister every Sunday who lives in another country.
    6. I talk with my husband every Sunday night at bed of all the things important.

    Sunday is a special day!

  39. The things we do I hope are working –

    1. We have FHE together and try to make it positive. We discuss our goal to be a forever family and ways to reach that goal.

    2. We try to have dinner together, but my kids aren’t really talkers yet.

    3. We enjoy dates – with kids individually, in genders, playing games, or as a couple.

    There were times as a kid I didn’t get along with my sister, but now she is my best friend so I believe these things will work – eventually.

  40. 1) Always eat together at the dinner table and “take out” in the family room.
    2) Everyone goes to everyone’s activities. Big brother goes to little sister’s soccer and lil sis goes to bb’s music concerts. I feel strongly that everyone should support each other’s interests (Hubby’s ’57 Chevy, Me and Photography/Scrapping, Son’s music, and daughter’s soccer and campfire).
    3) Say “I love you” and “have a wonderful day” everyday.

  41. Several things come to mind.
    1. We always say “I Love You” when we tuck the girls in OR when we part for a bit. (school/work)
    2. We eat dinner together practically every night where we talk and share our days’ activities.
    3. We have family game night.
    4. We work together to give of our time to people that need something.

  42. Wow, I loved reading all these comments. Thanks Stacy for this post.

    My 3 sons are all under 8 so right now it seems so easy to have time together, to always have dinner as a family, and not have to run around a lot. Reading these were a good reminder that it will take a conscious effort to keep that going as their lives fill up.

    My 3:
    1. We laugh together—as much as possible. My MIL, who also had only sons, told me she never allowed any bathroom humor…I think she was trying to give me a hint, but…I’ve already surrendered. Body noises are funny;-)

    2. We greet each other and make the effort to get up and hug or wave at the window when anyone leaves. It’s so basic, but I love that big hug & kiss goodnight.

    3. We make an effort to pay attention. It’s harder than it sounds. I’m still in the babystage of learning exactly how to do this…it is SO much easier to worry, ask questions, stay busy…but your post about quiet time reminded me of this goal. I want to really listen and really SEE my kids for who they are as individuals. So much of our anxiety about our kids and their future is all in our head—not that the dangers are real, but usually we’re worrying about something in the future that isn’t here. Our children are here now and when I focus on that, I am a calmer mother and a better one too.

    Thanks Stacy!

  43. Essential in our home:

    Date night with one of our 4 kids on Monday night (rotating so that each child has a date with mom or dad once a month)

    Dinner with the whole family every night at the dinner table, except…

    Dinner OUT once a week (this is for MY sanity) on our busiest night.

    We try to focus on the positive, and enjoy the time we have as a family!

  44. I try to incorporate different family related activities throughout the year. Right now, we have a thankful tree. I cut a bare branch from a bush outside and put it in a fabric wrapped vase. Then I printed and cut out lots of leaves in different fall colors. Each day we write something we are thankful for and then we read it and I hot glue them to our tree. By thanksgiving it should be a beautiful tree full of things we are thankful for.

    For Christmas we are doing an advent calendar with activities rather than gifts or candies. We will have things like drink hot chocolate, watch a holiday movie, drive to see the Christmas lights, make an ornament or string popcorn. All the things we can do as a family.

    Other things we do include eating together and taking turns saying grace. We also try to have family picnics or BBQ’s often. I also dance around the kitchen with my daughter whether we are listening to Rock and Roll or Christmas music. My father used to do that with us and I hope one day she will do it with her family.

  45. These suggestions were on the Today Show this morning, and I was grateful that we had (sort of, in our own struggling way) done them when our kids were at home. It sounds like many of you are also.

    1. Check your kids’ homework nightly and be engaged in their school activities.
    2. Moniter your children – know where they are, who they’re with, and what they’re doing.
    3. Take your kids on vacation (and leave your Blackberry and laptop at home!).

  46. My family has always been very close and I believe it’s due to certain things we did as they were growing up.
    1) Always ate dinner together every night starting with a family prayer. This dinner included lots of conversation. My kids were always allowed to discuss anything they wanted which sometimes gave us more info than we wanted about other kids but they knew that the conversation never went farther when we left the table.
    2)We attend worship services at our church every Sunday. This is a very important time in our week and gives us a well needed boost for the week. Our faith is the cornerstone of our family and it’s more important than most everything else in life.
    3)We love to hang out together whether it’s playing games at night or watching movies, eating pizza on the weekends. Whatever it is that we’re doing – sometimes it’s just gathering in the living room in front of the fire talking about our day – we love doing it together.
    My kids are now 26, 22 and 20 and they all live at home and still like hanging out together. My son just recently went through a divorce and moved back home. His sisters have been so supportive of him it’s been very cool to watch. He also re-committed his life to Christ which has been so emotional and incredible to see. I feel so very blessed with the children – and husband – that God has blessed me with.

  47. I’m probably going to repeat what others have said, but I’m not reading the posts until I’ve put down my list….

    1. Eat together – and talk together about what’s happening (for us, for the community, for the country or the globe)
    2. Be appreciative – when someone does something that is helpful, funny (uplifting), out of the ordinary (or just ordinary!) – acknowledge this and enjoy it, celebrate it.
    3. Plan things together – vacations, holidays, projects (big and small), meals, trips, chores…

    Now I’m off to read the other comments! I enjoy your blog and also the responses you generate from other readers.

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