Families that Play Together, Stay Together

KEY DATA: A family’s “core” leisure activities (those that are typically everyday, low-cost, home-based activities such as playing board games, playing in the yard, gardening and watching television together) were related to the family’s cohesion. Both a family’s “core” activities and their “balance” activities (those that are novel experiences and require a greater investment of time, effort, planning and money–such as vacations, special events, and sports activities) were related to the family’s ability to adapt…(more)

“Families that play together, stay together” certainly has a nice ring to it, but does the evidence support the aphorism? It does. The social science research shows that spending recreation time together fosters a healthy family environment.

A study published in the July 2001 issue of Family Relations explored how two types of family leisure activities, core and balance activities, influenced family members’ perspectives on emotional bonding (cohesiveness) and flexibility in roles and rules (adaptability) within the family.

For the study, researchers surveyed 138 college students about their families. The study asked the students about two kinds of activities. Core activities were defined as “common, everyday” activities, such as watching TV or playing sports in the backyard. In contrast, balance pattern activities were defined as more “novel” experiences that were less frequent and often away from home, such as a family vacation. The researchers found that both core and balance activities are positively correlated with family cohesiveness and adaptability. In fact, the strongest association was between core activities, which families do with consistency and familiarity, and perceptions of family cohesiveness, the emotional attachment aspect of familial relationships.

These findings suggest that spending leisure time with one’s family – be it playing a game of Scrabble or taking a road trip – enhances the quality of life and the relationships at home.

The Heritage Foundation’s familyfacts.org catalogs social science findings on the family, society and religion gleaned from peer-reviewed journals, books and government surveys. Serving policymakers, journalists, scholars and the general public, familyfacts.org makes social science research easily accessible to the non-specialist.


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Posted on August 1, 2006, in News and politics. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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