This vision of my dad is burned in my brain: The family is seated around the kitchen table, playing the game “Killer.” The object of the game is for the “killer” to wink at someone without anyone else noticing. My dad was “it,” and his blue eyes welled with tears as he tried to suppress his glee. We all just burst out laughing at his lack of “game.”
Even as modern distractions can interfere with family game night, it is still alive and well in many households. And hot weather is prime time for throwing dice or shuffling cards inside with young ones.
Family game night is a staple for Sabrina Hemphill and her two boys Torsten, 10, and Zander, 8.
“For our family, it encourages talking about the things going on in our lives,” says Hemphill. “It brings extended family together in a fun environment that encourages teamwork, laughter and love.”
Recently, Hemphill involved her cousin in game-night antics. “We recently played Zombieopoly, and Auntie Tina made us all act out our zombie purchases,” Hemphill said. “I think that game sparked Zander’s new love for acting and being on stage.”
Wendy Barnard, mother of Jake, 12, Nate, 10, and Sam, 8, sees learning benefits in family game night.
“I think it helps children appreciate rules, strategizing, and understanding that sometimes things are based on luck, and sometimes it is skill,” Barnard says.
Hemphill adds, “I also think the games encourage math, time management and organization skills.”
Older board games are revered as classics. “Playing the Game of Life, the boys think it is absolutely hilarious every time they get ‘babies,’” says Barnard. “There was a time when my 10 year-old had to get another car to hold all the children he had.”
And some games take new forms. Hemphill says, “We have an electronic version of Monopoly that uses a credit card for each person, but the boys will only play the paper money version. They feel using credit cards does not give them a complete picture of their financial situation for property purchases.”
When asked their policy on “letting children win,” both Hemphill and Barnard copped to using this practice when their children were young. But, it’s fair game, so to speak, now that their kids are older.
“I finally get a chance to beat my boys in something non-sport related.” Barnard says.