Robert CurrieToday’s guest post is from Dr. Rob Currie. Dr. Currie teaches child and adolescent psychology at Judson University and was a 2013 Hearts at Home conference speaker.

His web site is

Along with the “stuff” you’re planning to give your family this Christmas, give them time with you. Toys and trinkets are often quickly forgotten, but special time together is treasured for years.

I’m no whiz at gift giving, but I’ve enjoyed this sort of quality time with our sons. My first experience was when I took our thirteen-year-old son, Sam, to a local hotel for a one-day stay. We started out in the pool. After swimming, we returned to our room for some shenanigans—a spray foam fight. He sat in the tub, using the shower curtain as a shield and I dashed in, blasting away. For a minute, foam and fun flew all over the bathroom. When our aerosol cans were empty, we wiped the soapy mess off the floor and walls. Then we ordered pizza and settled in for an evening of televised sports. The next day, we had a good time at a hands-on science museum.

My second experience was a summer outing with our younger son, Steven. When he was fifteen, I took him to a campground. We began by racing down the water slides. He claims to have won all the races but fortunately for me there is no official record of the results. Later, we swam in the outdoor pool, grilled our supper, guzzled root beer, and retired to our cabin to munch microwave popcorn while we watched two movies. The first was a corny slapstick film and the second was a tense drama about a father who battled wits with kidnappers as he fought to get his son back.

Do you want more ideas about one-on-one time? Here is an assortment of ideas in rapid fire fashion which I gathered by surveying a few of my friends.   A grandmother took her thirteen-year-old granddaughter on a trip to Florida. An older sister took her youngest sister to the skating rink. A college student took her dad out on a lunch date and gave her mom a coupon for working together in the back yard and garden. A mom took her daughter to downtown Chicago for a weekend, including a trip to the spa and plenty of sightseeing. When a dad took his daughter out for time with him, she loved riding in his Mustang convertible to and from the restaurant as well as a stop at the candy shop on the way home. A mom took her four-year-old daughter to see the Christmas lights downtown. Finally, an older woman, who is a “second mom” to a single mother, took the younger woman and her young daughter to the zoo.

As you make plans for special time with a family member, consider these suggestions:

  1. Do something you both enjoy. Mutual fun is a powerful bonding force.
  2. If time or money don’t allow for a full day experience together, do something for an afternoon or a few hours in the morning.
  3. With young children, it may be better to spend a few hours together rather than an all-day event.

What about you? What have you done with family members or what are you planning to do? 

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