What is an intentional family?

An intentional family plans activities to build lifelong happy memories that make a family stronger and healthier.

Think back to when you were younger. Are there things you and your family enjoyed or experienced together that still make you smile when you think of them? They may not have been anything big, just things that make you feel good when you remember them. Now think of your children and the family you have today. Are there things you do to build a strong family? What sorts of memories are you creating for your family?

Families do not become strong unintentionally. Strong families are intentionally created and it takes each member doing his or her part to be successful at it. It requires engaging in activities on purpose to make your family stronger and it takes intentionally planning activities that create memories for your family to share. It also requires time and effort, and may mean compromising busy individual schedules in order to strengthen family bonds, which then decrease the number of incidents where family members feel taken for granted.

Intentional families spend time together. They celebrate special occasions, both large and small. Families who have fun and can be silly together share common traits with intentional families. Many of these shared family times are centered around special meals, holidays and other cultural celebrations.

Giving time to your children through planned family activities and celebrations shows them you care about and appreciate them. Strong families find it is important and fun to spend time together. One way you can do this is to create a “Family Fun Box.” Start by making a list of things you might like to do or share with your children. Try to choose activities that are doable. A few ideas might be to:

  • go for a walk together
  • rent a movie for the family to watch together
  • read a book together, go for a family bike ride
  • choose a special family meal to prepare together

Get input from your children and come up with as many ideas as you can. Next, get some index cards. On the front of each card, write, “Family Fun Card.” On the back of each card, write one activity idea. Place the cards in a shoe box or other small container. Designate one night, at least once a month, as a Family Fun Night. When Family Fun Night arrives, have a family member pull a card from the box, and do whatever it says. Be sure to take turns each month to allow each family member to have a turn picking a card. Family members can continue to come up with fun ideas and add them to the box over time.

While you each grew up in some kind of family, each family is unique. This means your experience is different from your spouse’s, partner’s or co-parent’s experience. You can learn a great deal from each other about how to create an intentional family. You can work together to intentionally create a strong family by planning some fun family activities to help build lifelong happy memories for you and your children.

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