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Looking for the best family bonding activities to do with your kids? There are obvious family bonding ideas like eating together, reading, church, etc., but what about doing a community service project together? More importantly, what about a mission trip?
Wait! I know it sounds crazy. But hear me out. It may be easier than you think.
For instance, a good idea might be to go to the Texas-Mexico border. My family has ministered to the people in The Colonias doing VBS, soccer camps, construction, painting, and food distribution for many years.
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This one thing has changed my family and taught my kids things I could never teach them in church, through books, or even a well-done movie. Going on a mission trip is that important. Really.
In this post, I am going to tell you why doing a mission trip is one of the best family bonding activities to do with your kids.
Why is Having Good Family Bonding Important?
Good family bonding is important so your kids feel loved and important in your family unit. Parents who have strong relationships long term tend to have kids who listen and do the right thing when they are older.
Also, kids who have bonded in their family tend to foster healthy connections and relationships with others because it was modeled in their family of origin.
The most meaningful family bonding activities my family has experienced is not at an amusement park, a sports field, or even a fun vacation. It has been through a service project in an impoverished area called The Colonias down in South Texas.
The particular group our church has gone through every year is Hearts4Kids. It was a good choice for us because it was not only inexpensive but it was also close, not to mention that they are highly reputable. We know the leaders personally.
We also liked going on the trip because a lot of our family friends and their kids attended with us. It made it fun for our kids. We not only bonded as a family, but we bonded with other believers in our church.
The Best Family Bonding Activities to Do As a Family
The best family bonding activities we have done together is to go to the Colonias, South Texas.
You may wonder what are The Colonias. They are communities in an unincorporated makeshift area about a mile from the Texas-Mexico border. These areas are just beyond the municipal boundaries of any city or town.
Many sections of land have no drinking water, electricity, or sewage service. Texas has the largest number of Colonia residents; more than 500,000, mostly immigrants, who live in these shanty houses.
The land in these areas is subdivided by unscrupulous owners who sell a plot, often to buyers who don’t understand the terms of the agreement. Many times the owner will give false promises utilities will be installed. Of course, it never happens.
If the terms of the agreement are not kept, the family is thrown off the property only for the same thing to happen again to the next unsuspecting residents.
Sadly, these people have no recourse since they don’t understand English and barely have enough money to live.
Many of the houses in the Colonias barely stand up straight because they are built with a mixture of plywood, cinderblocks, metal scraps, and tar paper.
Residents have extension cords running from one shanty to another trying to get electricity to their shelters. Some shelters are a little better than a cardboard box.
While driving through the area, I saw one make-shift home that had three “walls” (scrap wood) barely secured and no roof. A baby was sitting outside of the “home” in the 100-degree heat left in a stroller by himself. There was no one around.
It was beyond imaginable. I wanted to stop and rescue the child, but we had to keep driving to our destination. This is the hardest thing about being a community worker; you are overwhelmed with the thousands of needs everywhere you turn.
What Activities Are Done Together On a Family Trip?
When we arrived we had no idea what kind of family bonding activities we would do together. On the first day, we set out on foot to distribute food and tell people about God in neighborhoods usually you would never go to. One home we visited was basically a dumping ground for garbage and old metal scraps.
The “house” was a big box on blocks with no electricity, water, or sewage. The people inside were barely existing.
It smelled like death. Yes, death has a smell.
We found dead rats under the house that had been meticulously slit open and gutted. It appeared they had been eating the rats for food. This still haunts me. I don’t know how they were living this way.
The good news is that a day later our teens decided we should all go back and help them clean up their yard. We also brought more food for the family.
All of this happened because we discovered them while walking in the area, and the teens decided to go back the next day. This one act changed the trajectory of a family’s life. Eventually, they accepted Jesus and moved.
From this one experience, my kids learned how their behavior affects others greatly, not to mention how blessed they truly are to live the life they have. They would never have learned this at home in Dallas. There are some things you just have to experience first hand.
Why a Community Service Project Will Bond Your Family
You may wonder why my family keeps going back to the Texas-Mexico border in an area that is unsafe, dirty, and forgotten. (We always feel safe as a group). It is because volunteering together has bonded us and changed us.
My otherwise, phone-addicted teenage children, put down their cell phones for several days and worked in 100-degree heat roofing, distributing food, painting, and singing songs with elementary age children because they fell in love with them.
This alone changed me as I watched my kids find the true meaning of life in this community service project. True happiness is not found in a bigger house, a faster car, or a better job. It is found in giving to others who will never be able to pay you back.
When you see your son pick up trash in a stranger’s yard for hours or you see your daughter give a child extra snacks because he has not eaten all day, it makes you realize this is the best thing your family has ever done together.
My family found true purpose in the heat, dust, and dirt of an abandoned area that no one else cares about. We found who we really are as a family and as Christians who love Jesus.
I will be forever grateful for this is one of the greatest family bonding activities as it truly bonded my family together and they learned how to have compassion for others.
My daughter has said over and over again she would rather be in South Texas than on a big, fancy vacation.
How Do You Bond With Kids?
Don’t miss the opportunity to do one of the best family bonding activities with your family. Find something that fits you and your kid’s passion. It will make the time together more meaningful and fun. It helps if they have friends doing it too.
Warning: Your kids may complain at first, so don’t give in to the whining. Once you get there, everyone will eventually settle in and find where they fit best in the community activity. Make sure you have a great attitude and are willing to help or your kids will pick up on it.
They won’t want to help if you don’t help.
Once the day is over, talk as a family about what happened and how everyone felt about what they saw. Let them share their experiences. You will be amazed at what they learned. In fact, you may even cry when you see how it changed them forever.
I would love to hear how your family bonding activities changed your family. Write it in the comments below.
Check out this video about the Colonias in case you are interested in planning a trip to the border.
Got Family Problems? There is Help!
Are you experiencing family problems or even estranged? Are you feeling shame, anger, or rejection? Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store.
This book not only talks about my seven-year estrangement from my Christian family, but it also gives solid tips to help you with your own family problems. Break free from your pain. Allow God to heal you no matter what has happened in your family of origin. There is hope when your family falls apart.
Creating Family Memories Book
Get Creating Family Memories. This book will help you manage your family in a way that allows more time to be intentional with your kids. It includes a schedule too. You can get it at your favorite bookstore.
Join Christian Family Living Facebook Group
Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the group Christian Family Living. This is a place for Christian women to share their experiences and get helpful tools to navigate the Christian life. We love to laugh, cry, and encourage each other to live out our faith one day at a time.