An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Putting Faith in Family Night

As a family, we do many things together. We eat our meals together, we play together, we attend mass together, we pray the rosary, we have great vacations. But even with all this togetherness, my husband and I decided early on to have an official Family Night . . . one night that was all about the celebration of family togetherness. We wanted the boys, when they are older and living away from home, to have fond memories of these fun Friday nights when they were growing up.

And we've had some great family nights. Sometimes they simply involved popcorn and a movie, while other times it was Sonic burgers followed by flag football at a park. We've played board games, had picnics on the living room floor in the winter, or simply went on a pajama run (hopping in the car to go to the Dairy Queen drive-thru while wearing our pajamas!).

Last year, however, as we were facing the Lenten season, we decided to include a spiritual side to these nights . . . to add faith to the fun in our Family Nights. We also wanted to have the two older boys become more involved in planning these nights.

So we decided to try this: Every Friday would be Family Night, to be planned by a different member of the family each week (excluding our toddler, of course). And these family nights had to include three elements:
  • a devotion: this could include a preparation for next Sunday's gospel, the rosary, Stations of the Cross, or a favorite Bible reading. By starting our family nights with a prayer or devotion, hopefully our sons are learning the importance of beginning an activity (whether work or play) with prayer, of offering whatever it is they're doing to God and asking for His blessing. They are also learning how to lead in prayer. We want our sons to be able to pray extemporaneously and to be comfortable in leading others in prayer.

  • a meal: whoever plans family night has to think of a family meal. Of course, the boys still need my help, but they get to make the all important decision of what we were going to have for dinner. It goes without saying that hot dogs, pizza, or tacos are popular choices.

  • an activity: this is always the easiest part, but we've noticed that ever since the boys have been involved in the planning, we've done some very different things. One night my middle son organized a scavenger hunt in the house, complete with clues and riddles. Another time my older son gave everyone $3 (from his own savings) and had us draw names. Then we all went to Target and had to buy something in secret for that person. We all came home and exchanged the "gifts" amid a lot of laughter and fun!

We started doing our family nights this way as a Lenten act, but they've been so successful that we've just continued them in this fashion. And here's what we've discovered: praying beforehand sets a spiritual tone that extends through the meal and activity; the boys like to be in charge and have some great ideas; they are getting good at leading in prayer; and we really, really look forward to these nights.

Food, family fun, and most important of all, faith...all three bundled into one happy package, working together to create lasting memories.


onthegomom said...

That sounds so fun! Even though my kids are getting older, I still try to have family night (not formal anymore, more informal now) at least once a month. We all get together and just laugh and have a great time.

I love your ideas!!!

Karen said...

Sounds like you have a very close knit family. Those are things they'll cherish.

Lisa said...

Oh, I love this! We used to do this on Sunday nights, but without beginning with a devotion. I think it's time to start this up again, and add the devotions! Great inspiration, Bia!

SuzyQ said...

These are some great suggestions!
I had to smile at your mention of a pyjama run. We've done that one before lol!

Dori said...

What a wonderful way to spend time as a family! I don't have any kids yet, but I certainly will remember the things I've learned from your blog when I have a family of my own.

Also, thanks for the support. It's always nice to know someone has gone through what you're going through, and it's nice to know that they succeded!

GrandmaK said...

We did that with the kids when they were growing up too. We always had such great fun...One of the greatest evenings we would have is when Fr. Gene would come for dinner and we would play PIT. I'm sure the neighbors thought we were all strung out on something, but PIT is a great outlet if you don't mind the NOISE!

We also used the Blessing Cup, a gift from Marianne's godmother, with meals. We used it to celebrate birthdays, Christmas, or just because we had a "good day". It's nice to know that some family traditions never die!! Thank you. You brought back some wonderful memories. Cathy

Maria said...

That's a great idea! It sound like you've had a lot of fun and some of those ideas were very creative! Thanks for the idea!

Kathryn said...

What an inspiration you are! We also have family nights and do many of the fun things listed, but not quite the same way...I like your way and am going to possibly incorporate that into our you mind a copycat???