This may sound like an oversimplification, but the family or marriage that isn't healthy is the family or marriage that isn't playing together. Playing together is an essential trait of happy, healthy families. Certainly our children need to do their chores, and of course they need discipline with consistency, but what they also need desperately from their parents is a rousing game of hide-and-seek or a monthly Ping-Pong tournament.
A great thing happens to families when they play together: They begin to talk and laugh and lighten up. Family memories are built, inside jokes are shared, and serious moments of intimacy are communicated. Families need special times together to build lifelong memories and to play together!
As most experts on the family will tell you, a family that plays together stays together. But I would add that a family that plays together will also be much more happy and healthy. For many families, play is the missing ingredient to glue the family together. Play opens closed spirits and heals broken marriages.
We know instinctively that play produces family togetherness and support. We know that when we play together, we have a deeper sense of belonging and community in the family. Parents must proactively work at making a sense of belonging and community one of their key goals for family togetherness.
Playing together as a family may open up the communication lines better than anything else you try, so now is the time to be proactive and create those family fun days and events that provide the catalyst for more effective communication. Do whatever it takes to keep the communication lines open, even if it means picking up a basketball or going to the park on a regular basis. Playing together and having a good time just may be the safety net you need to make a difference in your child's life.