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5 Ways to Spark Family Conversations

Blog 10.5fixedAs children's ministers, we know the importance of communication. What we say and how we say it can make a world of difference to our kids. But how do your kids communicate with their parents, and vice versa? I was shocked when I found out just how much time kids and parents spend talking with each other. I believe you will be shocked as well. (Go ahead and take a guess…how much time do parents spend in meaningful conversation with their kids per day? I'll tell you in a little bit.)

Most experts agree that family conversations bring so many benefits. Livestrong.com claims that when kids talk with parents, they have better family bonds, a stronger vocabulary, higher grades, and are at less risk of substance abuse and peer pressure. One of my co-workers can speak to the family bonds part. He recently told me his family's motto is "expectation without communication will lead to frustration." He knows the importance of talking to his kids and letting them know what he expects of them.

OK, have you made your guess yet? Let's see how you did. According to A.C. Nielsen Co., the average parent spends 38.5 minutes per week in meaningful conversation with their children. That is a sad 5.5 minutes per day. That's less than the amount of commercials in a standard television show! The average family couldn't even mute the television during ads to talk about what happened during the day.

Getting families to talk can be a difficult task, but it's definitely a rewarding one. Here are five products and websites I found that you can suggest to your parents that may give them the gift of gab with their kids.

  1. I'm a big gamer. I love board games. And I truly believe that family game nights can bring parents and kids closer together! Check out Rory's Story Cubes. They're small, but they can pack a creative punch. In a nutshell, you roll the picture cubes and then come up with a story using what you rolled. Of course, creativity is the name of the game, and if you find a different way to play, then go for it! Quick and small, this is a great recommendation for families who are looking to talk more with each other.
  2. Take the fun of a beach ball, mix in funky designs and fun, interesting questions, and you have the Throw & Tell Balls. Toss the ball, and whatever question your thumb lands on you have to answer. Different balls have different themes such as "All About Me," "Prayer," and "This…or That?" If families want to play while on the go, there is also Children's Ministry Talk Starters App out now at the Apple App Store and the Google Play store. Also, check out the Gabbit!
  3. Perfect for a game night with families that have kids ages 7 and up, Magic Feather by Wiggity Bang is fun for fun's sake. Players take part in a scenario such as getting to the ice cream store as quickly as possible while doing funny and creative stunts to move their characters around. According to the website, the game "helps develop creativity and imagination; helps build problem-solving, story-telling, counting, reading, and map skills; encourages physical activity; and exercises the sense of humor!"
  4. When I was little, I found a copy of The Ungame in the back of a family member's closet. I didn't understand the non-competitive game; everything else I played always had to have a winner! I'm glad to see it's still going strong. The Ungame is all about getting to really know who you are playing with. It's a simple game; just move and answer a question about yourself. Families will enjoy learning things they never knew about each other, and there's even a Christian Ungame that adds questions to the original pack that deal with faith and beliefs.
  5. An independent nonprofit, Common Sense Media helps to inform and equip parents to make healthy media choices when it comes to their kids. The website posts reviews for new movies, games, websites, TV shows, music, books, and apps. Not only can parents find out what other parents are saying about the different types of entertainment, but many reviews come with questions families can talk about afterwards. The modern family might be glued to the computer and television screen, but now you can help families use them has a tool for talking.

 5.5 minutes of talk a day is just not enough. We need to encourage and equip our parents to spend quality time with their kids and open the doors to communication. A little time spent now will mean the world to them later.

I want to hear how you get your families talking! Leave a comment below telling us how you have helped parents connect with their kids.

Posted at 14:07

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