Last night in the adult session of our Stake Conference the time was turned over to the congregation to share ideas on how they have kept their families strong.  Here are some of the ideas presented:

*Time.  Make time for your family.  Have parent/child dates periodically.  Don’t let the family get over scheduled.  Too many activities take away from family time.

*Don’t allow certain words to be used in your family.  Decide as a couple what words you consider hurtful and make it a policy to never use those words in the marital relationship nor in the family as a whole.

*When the family is getting together in the evening after a day of work and school each person can look for ways to serve another family member.  Dad or teenagers can take a turn fixing dinner.  Mom can clean the windows on Dad’s car.  Kids can do chores for each other.  The ideas are limitless.  Even if your family is reluctant to adopt this idea, you can make it a personal policy to do on your own.  When one person makes the effort to change, others often follow.

*One older gentleman shared his tradition of “Grandpa G’s annual sleepover with the grand kids.”  All fourteen of his grand kids get to come to his house for a giant sleepover and breakfast in the morning.  One activity he likes to do with them is to have them each draw pictures of a favorite memory they have of their grandparents.  Even the teenagers draw memory pictures.

*Have Family Home Evening every week.  Have one night a week that the family stays home together with no distractions (tv, phone, computer).  Have a spiritual lesson or talk about the values you want your children to learn.  Play games together.  Make a treat together.  Sing, joke, laugh.  Just spend time together.

*One lady told of her family’s 50 year tradition of a family reunion every summer.  She also told about quarterly firesides her extended family members have in which they get together and have a spiritual meeting and bear testimony.

*Play good music in the home.  Find music that has a calming influence.

*One woman shared how she helped her kids reconnect with their dad when they were younger.  He had to travel a lot for his job.  She had a separate folder for each of her kids that she would put school work, award certificates, and even photos in.  When her husband came home from a business trip he would have “Daddy’s Interviews” with each of the kids.  Each child got to take their folder into Daddy’s room and have some one-on-one time with him showing him everything in the folder.

*Husbands and wives still need to do things together even after the marriage ceremony.  Go on a weekly date.  Pray together.  Talk about the welfare of the children.  Take weekend getaways.  Take walks.  Cuddle.  Meet for lunch.

*Hug your kids every single day.  Do it several times each day.

*Instead of dreading the teenage years and viewing those years as tough and challenging for parents, parents can send the message, “We love having teenagers.  We love to have you here.”

*Celebrate motherhood.  Yes, there is some drudgery when taking care of a sick child or doing mounds of laundry, but remember that your children are a blessing.  Be grateful every day for the wonderful individuals that they are.  It is a joy to be a mother.  Celebrate fatherhood.  Embrace being parents.

*One lady shared her family tradition of having a lunch at a local restaurant as a family two days before Christmas Eve and taking turns to vocally share their love and bear testimony.

*Husbands and wives should try to not lose the friendship.  Try to see your spouse as your best friend.  Treat them as you would your best friend. 

*One lady shared an incident from her childhood.  As a young girl she had some fears.  Her father didn’t dismiss the fears as childish.  Instead, he listened to her “as he would an adult” and helped her to work through her fears.  Validate your children.  Listen to them.

*Share spiritual experiences with your family.

*Teach children from a young age what your standards are.  Begin teaching them honesty, modesty, the value of a work ethic, whatever your personal beliefs are, as soon as they are able to understand.  Continue those teachings through their youth.

There are many ways to strengthen your family.  These have been just a few ideas.  You may want to try some of them.  You may have ideas of your own.  The important thing is to make your family your focus.