Style Forced Family Fun

Forced Family Fun (FFF) defined is a family adventure wherein all parties ‘unplug’ and experience conversation and bonding together in a setting atypical of everyday life. FFF at times may be ‘forced’, especially if at the parents’ suggestion, however, there is immediate buy-in from children who quickly realize the fun involved and take part in the planning of future adventures!As parents of four children, it became apparent early on that a close family unit was needed with competing technological and social forces vying for our kids’ attention; television, cell phones, online gaming, social media, etc. Much to our children’s dismay, we coined the phrase ‘Forced Family Fun’ and enacted it with a passion.You may ask how parents can ever succeed in suggesting Force Family Fun while gaining kid’s buy-in? To this I would argue, why make it an option? Rather, try your first outing and then brainstorm additional activities as a family, to ensure a complete democracy. Be courageous; everyone who participates is a winner! Then schedule FFF once or twice a month at least, to make it a habit.When was the last time you had family game night, took a nature hike or a family bike ride, tent camped, experienced canoeing, played tennis or badminton, built a garden bed, picked berries to make pies, participated in a sand castle competition or scavenger hunt? The possibilities are endless with fearless tenacity and enthusiasm.


Our family has become so accustomed to Forced Family Fun that at times we venture into what we call ‘Extreme FFF’, to include a 22-mile Providence Bridge Pedal last August. Our 7-year-old son even completed the 8-bridge journey. Granted this was a citywide event in Portland, closing down bridges and highways, however, our kids were hooked by the promise of riding to the highest bridges in the city, normally impassable by bike, not to mention savory snacks along the way!Another unforgettable adventure this past summer was canoeing. A bucket-list item since our relocation to Portland, I informed my two older sons that we were embarking on a two-hour adventure, FFF style. Initial moans from my ten-year-old were inevitable, however, the sheer challenge of navigating the Willamette River while pretending to be chased by the Portland Spirit (a sightseeing cruise) and a tugboat pushing a load of gravel on the Willamette River, changed everyone’s perspective. A women’s team of rowers passed us at one point, to which I hollered, “I could use an extra teammate!” They laughed in reply, “You are a brave woman.” This was, without a doubt, a beneficial phrase to my sons’ canoeing ears. Nothing worth doing is ever easy, was the lesson I taught them that day, as we all felt a great sense of accomplishment and FFF camaraderie!Forced Family Fun accomplishment is generally our feeling as parents, whether we experience hours of family fun, or thankfulness having finished a seemingly impossible task outnumbered by four children, as was the case in Glenwood Springs, CO. In 2015, we set out on a gorgeous fall day hike to Hanging Lake, a top Trip Advisor destination, only to regret our decision as parents halfway to our destination. Coloradans at the time, we were not deterred by the difficult hike; however, in hindsight the trail should’ve been closed given the icy alpine terrain. Thankful to have survived the ‘Expedition Survival’ trek as a family, I promptly wrote a Trip Advisor review, urging folks to postpone until summer. Nevertheless, it was another spectacularly gorgeous Colorado wonder and memorable bonding experience as a family.


Extreme FFF; don’t let the faces fool you…Not every Forced Family Fun event requires extreme conditions, great expense or extraordinary feats of athleticism. Tent camping while learning to build a fire and roast s’mores together and game nights wherein everyone chooses their favorite board game, can be equally entertaining.I’ll admit it’s easy to let electronics babysit your children or constantly say yes to teenage engagements outside the home, parenting takes stamina. On the other hand, building a garden box, discovering slugs and snails on a nature hike, and a sand castle competition on the Oregon coast have provided countless hours creativity and memories to last a lifetime.Parents, be courageous, don’t fret your children’s initial disdain, and remember, with participation, everyone can have a voice in your democracy. My children sometimes comply begrudgingly, however, they all value Forced Family Fun and their friends know it. Create family bonding experiences while you have the time together. No regrets. I guarantee success, from first-hand experience, if you make it a family habit!