Read an Excerpt
Establishing, and then maintaining, strong family life is a matter of interest and concern for many of us.
We lead lives full of demands from our jobs and careers. Sometimes we seem to have too many commitments, and we find ourselves shortchanging those we care most about. Many of us do not live close to our extended families. We feel alone in our efforts to hold things together.
This book is a collection of modest practices, natural ideas, suggestions that adapt easily-all of which can enhance the quality of a family's life together.
We gathered these ideas from many people and places. Most are simple to put into practice; few require the purchase of particular supplies or the presence of special skills.
What all the ideas have in common is a deliberateness, a conscious effort to value and cultivate family relationships and personal character.
This is a collection of actual things to do. It is not theory.
Many of the activities reflect both the way things used to be, and the way practices have changed, now that both parents work away from home in many families, now that one's social life is no longer centered around neighborhood and church, and now that outside interests compete daily for everyone's time and energy.
-- Phyllis Good and Merle Good
Chapter 1. Ordinary Fun Times
When I need a break, I fill the tub with warm water and bubbles and let the children play in the tub, while I sit in the bathroom and read or write letters. This is great when they're feeling tired and so am I.
Anita and Randy Landis-Eigsti, Lakewood, Colorado
Since returning to the U.S., we often ask international students over for meals and invite them to tell us about their countries. We like to cook international foods for guests, inviting these friends and family to chop vegetables with us for Chinese egg rolls or to help us make tortillas and chapatis.
Richard and Jewel Showalter, Chad, Rhoda Jane, and Matthew, Irwin, Ohio
We like baking bread together.
Ron and Betti Risser, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Weird-Night-Dinners mean creating uncommon combinations or colors-purple milk, blue eggs, pink ice cream with carrot sticks. The children may choose anything in the cupboards or something that I can reasonably make. I pick the night!
Christine Certain, Fresno, California
Friday evening is family night. No family member schedules an out-of-family activity without checking with the rest of us. As a four-member family, we each take our turn on one Friday night of the month to plan or be in charge of the evening's activities. In the months that have five Friday evenings, all four of us plan the evening together. The activities range from games, shopping, concerts, fairs, and anything else of interest-that is cheap!
Millard and Pris Garrett, Kimmi and Krissie, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Every morning Alice and I get the day off to a fast start. We take a 20-minute hike to the mountain creek and back. Whether it's zero degrees or 70 degrees we do our daily ritual. It gives us a chance to talk if we feel like it-that usually happens on the way to the creek. On the return we might sing, pray out loud, share a scripture by memory or just meditate. You are right, we're in our early 60s and our four children are married and on their own.
Benefits? Better health, better communication, better schedule, and better togetherness! When Alice suggested this idea over four years ago after reading of another couple who did a daily walk, I wasn't all that excited. But we've found it to be a wholesome practice- physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Eugene and Alice Souder, Grottoes, Virginia