The family that plays together, stays together

Posted by Lakshmi Gopal on Sun, Jan 23, 2011  
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My cousin, who otherwise leads a sedentary life, recently participated in a half marathon – that too, with the whole family in tow! She was neither a casual participant, nor an avid runner. She decided to do outdoor sports with her family for a specific reason – to build unity within the household.


Of late, she noticed that her son and daughter, both in their teens, had become more irritable and were arguing with one another, or with their parents. Her husband had his own routine and was hardly home, while she had a busy schedule of work to attend to. All four members of the family had started going their own ways, losing track of what each member of the family enjoyed doing.


The race was held on a nippy January morning, when everyone would’ve normally been snoozing in their quilts. Her husband, a regular at marathons had, in the days leading up to the race, monitored their diets, and put the family on an exercise regimen.


By the end of the race, the children were flushed and happy, holding hands and cheering their mother as she reached the finish line a little behind them. The husband was thrilled and handed her a refreshing energy drink. The whole event had actually turned out to be one big picnic for everyone and the weekend finished on the right note. The family had bonded like never before!


Sporting activities in families lead to physical fitness, and are fun when all members are involved. A brisk morning walk, a badminton rally, lawn tennis, swimming, aerobics, or even riding bicycles – all of these help parents and children lose ungainly flab. Friendly competition and the lack of pressure on winning, make the games enjoyable and relaxing. A cheerful, healthy, and active family is always a welcome sight in the neighbourhood!


A family with very small kids, can play at something as simple as throwing a ball, hide-and-seek, or catch-me-if-you-can in green environs. Children thus learn to connect emotionally both to nature and their parents. They also develop investigative skills through such activities.


Playing sports open up many topics for discussion and debate. Family members start talking to each other, which in turn, opens up channels of communication. Soon, they start sharing more with each other than they would have, if they had been sitting in a restaurant or a shopping mall.


When family members train together, a sense of unity grows and loyalty is strengthened. The strong undercurrent of oneness provides a solid anchor and nourishes the family for years to come. Supporting the same team during a match, appreciating one another’s sporting qualities, and being tolerant of each other’s slips make true sportsmen of family members. They begin to understand that life is the bigger game – to be played with a smile!


Playing a sport together has to be a conscious family decision that must happen each weekend, if not every day. Obstacles to such events have to be consciously removed. It is easy for parents to be overwhelmed by the daily humdrum of life and put things off for another day. But if they don’t seek out their families actively and engage them in play outside the four walls, surely, in a few years’ time, the family will be a dull gathering (that is, if it gathers together at all!) of quirky, self-centered relatives.


When families get together for sports, they can even help one another keep resolutions about health, especially on diet and weight loss. A resolve to make changes in lifestyle for the better is usually successful when everyone participates in it.


So, the thrust of daily conversation in the family does not necessarily have to be the menu for the next meal, or homework and projects. It should rather, be the next activity you’re planning outdoors. Make the best of springtime – go out into the nearest park and have fun with the spouse and kids! Go play!



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