On the Importance of Family Games

Playing games together as a family is important. For kids’ brain development. For math concepts. For social skills.

In fact, I’m here to tell you that if you’re not playing games as a family, you’re probably doing family wrong.

If you are playing games together as a family, though, you already know that it always works out well. Family game playing is all rainbows and unicorns, you guys. It’s like inviting Switzerland and doves over for dinner and then eating s’mores by the campfire. Except not the sticky kind of s’mores that glue your fingers shut and give your daughter marshmallow dreadlocks and first-degree mouth burns. Family game-playing is like the immaculate, imaginary kind of s’mores made out of daydreams and laughter.


That’s what I’m saying about game-playing.

It’s all about achieving Family Nirvana. The cheerful zen of give and take.

And, in a family of 7, it’s all about the opportunity to lose, on average, 86% of the time. Which, gosh darn it, is FREE FUN FOR EVERYONE!

Just in case you don’t believe that game-playing is the fairy godmother of fun family time together, I offer this proof:

When I have to be away from my family for a few days, I check in sporadically via text. And phone. And e-mail. And telegraph. And homing pigeon. And mental telepathy. I might have a mild, obsessive check-in problem, but we can discuss that later.

Last weekend, on my business trip, I texted Greg: How’s everyone doing? Tell them I love & miss them!

And he texted me back: Four kids asked to learn a new card game. I taught them Hearts.

Me: That sounds terrible. How’d it go?

Greg: It was an unmitigated disaster. 

Me: Describe.

Greg: One got so worked up over having to take points in a round, he earned an early bedtime. Another one cried when he got the Queen of Spades. And the girl child quit when she got a heart. Cai lost but he had fun.


Cai lost BUT HE HAD FUN.

Rainbows and unicorns, you guys. Rainbows and unicorns.


ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
  1. Have you seen cooperative games? I love them! Everyone has to work *together* to beat the game… and some of them are really hard!


  2. I always figure if no one is bleeding by the end of the game, we’ve all won. Kudos to Greg for even trying!

  3. I swear, if we are not all either pissed off or crying or both after playing games, we have not done it right!

    1. YES! By those standards, we TOTALLY WIN AT GAME PLAYING! 😀

      1. Just keepin’ it real!

  4. Cai’s feeling sick? I’m sorry to hear it. Do we know what he has? Been to the doctor yet? Need anything from us?

    1. RIGHT? I know. He, like, didn’t rip up any cards this time or ANYTHING. I should take him in… trust that Mommy Gut.

  5. My husband, two-year-old, and I tried to play the Ladybug game together. It ended with my husband fighting with my son because my son wouldn’t play by the rules and just wanted to move the pawns along the path indiscriminately. During a particularly heated moment in this struggle, I looked at my husband and said, “I mean. It’s a frigging ladybug game. Is this the battlefield you want to die on?”

    1. Oh, Katie. Best friggin’ ladybug story ever. I laughed and then I laughed. AWESOME on a stick.

  6. But that’s why I gave Aden the Twister game–to promote family togetherness.

    1. Arguments on who controls the spinner aside, they LOVE using the Twister mat to slide each other up and down the hall. What can I say? They’re Think Outside the Box kind of kids!

  7. So funny! That’s why we stick with ball tag. Nothing says family love like winging a ball at a family member a hundred miles an hour. 😉

    1. Ha! Sounds like my kind of game!

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