It may sound obvious to say that spending time together builds healthy families. It’s one of those facts that virtually everyone agrees with, but too many families find it hard to put that simple principle into practice.

In today’s world, everyone in your family, from the kids up to the adults, has multiple priorities competing for attention. Youngsters are busy from the moment they start school and get involved in activities like sports, band, choir and clubs, not to mention spending time with friends.

Adults juggle work and household responsibilities, which leaves precious little time for warm family interactions. Instead, “togetherness” often means trying to have a conversation with the kids while shuttling them their next appointment in the car (and possibly competing with a DVD player, video game or iPod) or sharing some quick words over a rushed meal so everyone can hurry off to do their own thing.

As a parent, one of your responsibilities is to bring your family together. If you forge those important ties early on, they’ll deepen and stay strong over time. In 1 Timothy we find some harsh words for those who don’t provide for their families:

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. —1 Timothy 5:8, KJV

Of course, this verse refers to taking care of your family in all ways, including physical needs like food and shelter, which were not as easy to come by in Biblical days. In modern society, those things are still important, but time has become a commodity that’s often just as precious as living in a comfortable home and eating good meals.

In many cases, it’s even more precious, as shown by the number of adults who carry deep pain from their childhoods, even when they were showered with material goods. They point out they never got the one thing that mattered most: undivided attention from mom and dad.

If you’re not there for your children, how can you give them a sense of love and security? You can say, “I love you” 100 times a day, but does it ring true when you say it in passing as you brush off those little arms reaching out to hug you so you can hustle off to other responsibilities?

Where will your children learn their values and morals when your family doesn’t have a strong sense of togetherness? They’ll turn to their peers, who might lead them in unhealthy directions. You won’t even know it if you don’t have a strong family connection that lets you spot danger signs early.

Togetherness is important for healthy spousal relationships, too. If you don’t spend time with your partner, will he or she really feel loved and important? God clearly stated the importance of a close marital bond from the time of Adam and Eve:

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. —Genesis 2:24, KJV

Sure, we get positive reinforcement from other sources, but our families should be our primary support. The home should be a safe haven, and making togetherness a priority creates and strengthens healthy family ties. Carve out time for your spouse and children and respect that time in the same way that you’d honor any other important commitment. Use it for talking, relaxing, sharing, playing and having fun together.

Have a game night once a week, do a Bible study on Sunday nights, set aside time for outdoor play or carve out some time each evening where everyone simply talks to one another. Ask your partner and the kids what “togetherness” means to them and build your strategy around that.

God promises to treat us all as a family:

And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. —1 Corinthians 6:18 KJV

When He blesses you with your own earthly family, He gives you a precious gift. Stay close to your spouse and children and encourage them to forge their own bonds with each other. This simple but powerful strategy will build and maintain your family’s emotional and spiritual health.

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