Event Recap: Game Night Improves Family Communication
(July 28, 2023) Authentic communication is a constant challenge for families. Arms Wide’s Program Manager of Fort Bend Post Adoption and Post Permanency, Dr. Annette Williams, drew on her years of experience working with families to create a series of board games to help families navigate communication challenges. She knew that these challenges are especially present in foster and adoptive families as they also help their child deal with trauma due to past abuse or neglect. That is why she launched a Game Night that improves family communication.
Family Game Night
On May 28, 2023, Dr. Williams hosted a Game Night event for families in Arms Wide’s Post Adoption Program. During this event, families tested her board games that promote communication. This event coincided with a camp hosted by The Council on Adoptable Children in Texas at Camp Buckner. The goal was to foster communication for families and to provide families with the tools they need to have tough conversations. Additionally, families had the opportunity to vet the games and provide feedback help Dr. Williams use the games as a tool in foster and adoptive training programs.
Five families participated in the Game Night, during which they tested two of Dr. Williams’ board games. In the first game, Googly Moogly, players discussed scenarios that may have occurred in their foster care or adoptive homes. As they learned to see things from both the child’s and the parent’s perspective, children developed critical thinking, empathy and communication skills. Moreover, children were able to see that they weren’t alone in their struggles and learn from other youth at the event. “I enjoyed playing Googly Moogly because you got to see how other kids are getting through things,” recalled one male youth participant.
Families also vetted a game called Unpack That Stuff! In this game, players took turns reading and responding to questions and scenarios. Questions were designed to help players unpack emotions and learn to support others. At this event, participants felt like the game created an environment of transparency and vulnerability.
Children and teens reported that the game helped them talk about things that bothered them. “The game helped me bring a lot more feelings to the table that I’ve been having on my back for quite some time,” said one female teenage participant. Moreover, parents were able to create an environment of vulnerability by sharing their own feelings through this game. “It allowed the space for everyone sitting at the table to really unpack [feelings and emotions] nonjudgementally,” said one adoptive father.
Game Nights: Inspiring A Family Tradition
This Game Night event may be the beginning of a long family tradition of foster and adoptive board games. These innovative games are like no other because they were designed with foster and adoptive families’ unique needs in mind. Through this event, Dr. Williams gained valuable endorsement from families. “[This game] help us to have a platform to be able to address emotions…and to try to figure out solutions. I’m excited about this game because I know it will have a lot of relevance in our spaces that we work in as family and even professionally,” said one adoptive father.
We hope this will inspire other families to begin a tradition of family game nights. Family game nights can be a great way to practice intentional connection and communication. For foster and adoptive families especially, they are also a great way to help children navigate the effects of trauma. To learn more about how to get your own game, contact Annette Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.