Family Facts is an activity we do in our therapeutic family group sessions. In our work with families, we have noticed that even families who spend a lot of time together don’t often really know that much about each other. We all get busy maintaining our daily lives, and sometimes we don’t spend the time it takes to really invest in our relationships with each other.
We wanted to do something about this. We created an activity that seems really simple but is actually quite powerful. Each family sits at a table with a large sheet of butcher paper on it. We give the family a list of questions (here are the questions we use) that go back to the basics. The questions are for parents to answer about their children, or for the kids to answer about their parents. For example, “What is your mom’s favorite hobby?” or “Who is your daughter’s best friend?”
We ask the family to try to answer the question first, and then check to see if they answered correctly. So the kids might say, “I think mom’s favorite hobby is sewing. Is that right, mom?” Or they might say, “I have no idea what mom’s favorite hobby is. What is it, mom?” The goal then is for mom to tell them a little something about herself. “I love sewing. The most fun thing I ever made was your quinceañera dress!” It works the other way too. A parent might think they know who their daughter’s best friend is, only to discover she’s totally moved on to a new best friend, and that she and her new best friend love to go watch the varsity soccer games together.
Once families start answering the questions, we ask them to write the answers down on the butcher paper. It becomes a giant sheet of family facts. It has all the insight about their family on it – each person’s interests, their favorite activities to do together, memories of fun times. We let them take the family facts home, and we hope that they look at it together from time to time. We even tell the kids that it makes a good cheat sheet when they’re looking for the perfect Mother’s Day gift!
Family Facts is a great way to start a session together with a family. We have noticed that our families always seem to come together as a group after doing this activity, and they seem more cohesive and on the same page. We think it makes them more confident in their unit as a whole and it really strengthens the relationship between each person in the family.
Give it a shot!