Thursday, November 20, 2014

Are We Having Fun Yet?

"Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and WHOLESOME RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES" (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, para. 7)
This Mormon Message I want to share with you is a great introduction to this post. Take a look.
I have often thought about each particular principle mentioned in the above quote from the proclamation. In one of my recent posts, we talked about work. This time we will talk about wholesome recreational activities. The fact that this was included in the Family Proclamation says to me that it is very important to our Heavenly Father that we understand its value and implement it in our lives so that we can achieve happiness in our marriages and families. I believe we were sent to earth to enjoy life, to be happy, and part of that encompasses the wholesome activities we can do to enrich our lives and strengthen our families.
In the text for my class on the Family, research has been devoted to determining what makes a family happy. What does it consist of? We must be careful to distinguish what it is that truly gives us fulfillment. There is a difference between pleasure and happiness. "Gratification results when we invest rather than consume" (Successful Marriages and Families pg. 226).
Often, members of our church are asked the question by non-members, "Why are Mormon families so happy?" I don't think there is just one answer to this question. It involves a lot of things, like the knowledge we have of eternal families, that we work together in our family unit to love and serve one another. I would also venture to say that it is because we take time to be with one another, spending quality and quantity of time together as a couple and/or family. We like to have fun! Wholesome fun! But what does that consist of, especially in this day and age when drugs, alcohol and immorality in the world are promoted?
I asked my Facebook friends if they would share what they did growing up and/or what they are doing now to achieve wholesome recreational activities. Several of the responses are from married couples who don't have children, or their children are no longer at home, and they've shared what they do as couples.
* Birding
 * What comes to mind automatically is anything involving nature
 * Board games. Lots and lots of board games

The list could go on and on. There are so many things that can be done, and most of them don't need to involve money.  Some things my family loves to do are go on Sunday walks, bike rides, drives, little getaways to the coast, and we love to save our money and go traveling. One of our favorite things to do is watch movies together and watch or go to basketball games. I especially love to do those things that my children have a particular interest in. I feel it shows my love towards them and  a willingness to participate in what they enjoy. It is also a good way to show love towards one another in our family when we support each other in our various activities, such as sporting events, piano recitals, gymnastic meets..... whatever the occasion is. Make it fun. Show your kids you love them by being there for them. The point is to be together, and doing something that is wholesome and doesn't detract from the principles we are striving to live in our lives.
I received this response that I wanted to include as well:
* My dad always refused to swim with us. I didn't get the whole body image thing back then, but I also felt like he "NEVER did ANYTHING" with us. It was always my mom. I know people get uncomfortable doing things, but I think wholesome recreation involves occasionally being outside one's comfort zone.
I thought this was an interesting perspective. Are we missing out on precious time spent with our children and/or spouse if we are too uncomfortable for one reason or another? I hope not. Our children just want to be with us. They want time with their family to grow bonds and ties that bind us together.
In the text from my Family class, it says this:
"We have multiple televisions in our homes, personal computers at work and home, digital music players in our pockets that plug into our ears, and cell phones within easy reach. We seem to be connected to the whole world electronically, yet disconnected to those closest to us" (pg. 228).
"The components to wholesome recreation include opportunities to verbally communicate, develop skills, face challenges, create memories, share traditions and beliefs, and spend time together in the family setting" (pg. 233).
If it's been a while since you spent some wholesome recreational time with your family, I would challenge you to start now. Start small if you need to. Let your children and/or spouse help in the planning. Heavenly Father wants us to enjoy life, to be happy. And I firmly believe this can be wonderful preparation for the eternities when we can be with our family living in joy.

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