"Don't Forget to Have Fun" is a popular chapter in the book, A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children for Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children (p. 139 to 145). The ideas in the chapter are based on a family study a few years ago. Instead of looking at what's wrong with families struggling with trouble, the study found a few common factors showing up in successful families (families that stick together, raise children that overcome adversity and thrive into adulthood). Some of the factors they found are:
1. Affirmation - family members affirmed each other's presence regularly with a smile or small gestures and giving willing general personal support.
2. Clear expectations - adults in the family identified reasonable expectations for maintaining a supportive household from regular chores to expected conduct outside the home.
3. A process for solving problems - the families worked together to solve problems either through family meetings or regular respectful discussions.
4. Did interesting things together - the families traveled, took classes, talked and generally developed ways to enjoy each other.
5. Tell family stories - keeping history alive even when some of the stories were sad.
6. Seek help - when there was trouble these families reached out to the community of services to get the help they needed.
The chapter goes on to explain some of these points while offering a list of fun things families can do together. Here's one idea:
"If you don't know what adventures are around you, try this: make a 60 mile circle on a map within your home area as the center. All the little towns or neighborhoods in that circle have some great places to visit or stories to tell - zoos, museums, sporting events, nature centers, beaches, parks, specialty shopping including antique stores for collectibles, used book stores, garden shops , libraries, local museums." Now go. Have fun. Life really is good.