Dear Dr. Bill,
My husband and I have been married for two years now and our biggest concern has been “How to have good, family leisure time.” We want to know how we can do that as a family, being together and spending time communicating. Watching TV or movies together is an easy way of being together but we agree that it doesn’t encourage any communication. We have a one-year-old son, and we want to set good patterns now. What do you suggest?
You are one wise lady. The fact that you want to do the best for your family and are thinking ahead to the future puts a big smile on my face. Now is the time to establish healthy new patterns, while your child is young.
You’re absolutely right, watching TV and DVD’s together every so often is fine, but a steady diet of it can be harmful to your family’s relational health.
The average American family has the television on in the home 49 hours per week. This in spite of the fact that we have research showing how detrimental too much TV viewing can be on kids—it can lead to obesity, aggressive behavior, and may even cause attention problems that interfere with learning.
After you turn off the TV, here are a few ideas for spending quality time together. When the weather warms up, take walks as a family in the evening. Put your baby in a stroller and walk around the neighborhood, visit a local park, or check out the bike trails in your community. Read together as a family. Find children’s books for toddlers, hold your son in your lap, and take turns reading aloud to him.
After your son is in bed, talk about your day, your plans for the weekend, and your goals for the future. Play board games together as a couple, and when your son is old enough, find some simple games that he can participate in.
Get involved in a service project at your church or in your community. And finally, pray together. If you keep God at the center of relationship and pray with and for each other, you will be building a great foundation for a solid marriage.
Thanks for writing, Esther. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, just click the “Questions” tab on the Family Expert page.