1. It encourages open communication
No matter the activity, designated time spent together as a family—without the distraction of work, phones or chores—creates a space for open dialogue. Perhaps your kids have been meaning to talk to you about something but sensed you were too caught up in other tasks to listen (hey, it happens). When everyone has a lot on their minds, it’s easy to forget to check in with family about how their day went. Recurring family time solves the problem by providing your unit with a consistent opportunity to communicate and be heard—an experience that promotes emotional connection. Priceless.
2. It builds self-esteem
Aside from strengthening emotional bonds, communication (as described above) also helps build self-esteem in young people who may otherwise lack the confidence to contribute to conversation. In other words, giving children the chance to share details about their lives and chime in with opinions on current events in a relaxed family setting will make them feel valued and improve their sense of self-worth in and outside the nuclear unit.
3. It demonstrates positive family and relationship dynamics
Kids learn by copying their parents, say researchers at Michigan State University (but you already knew that, right?). This means that whenever the whole fam gets together, there’s occasion to teach (and learn) by example. Both parents stand to gain quite a bit from seeing how the other interacts with the kids, while the youngest members will benefit from seeing healthy relationship dynamics modeled by the grown-ups. (So yeah, maybe don’t choose family time to bicker with your significant other about who washes the most dishes.)
4. It reinforces family rules
Family rules play a huge role in ensuring a household runs like a well-oiled machine—and what better opportunity to get everyone on the same page than when the whole gang is in the same place, at the same time. Whether you want to convey the importance of listening to others without interruption or emphasize that everyone needs to chip in when it comes time to clean-up, designated time together will help get the message across.
5. It helps meet emotional needs
You might spend a ton of time around your family, but when that time coincides with other competing demands (like work, cleaning, running errands, etc.), it isn’t conducive to the kind of undivided attention and purposeful affection that helps relationships thrive. By setting aside time to spend with family at the exclusion of other things, you can truly focus on the emotional needs of your family members, while having yours as well.
6. It improves mental health
According to the findings of a research study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Public Health, family rituals and quality time with parents correlates with improved mental health and fewer delinquent behaviors among adolescents, in particular. Bottom line: The teen years are no cake walk, but they might be considerably more manageable for both you and your child if you carve out some time together.