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What is Family Life 1st?
Family Life his a grass roots movement of citizens building a community where family time and family activities have high priority in a world that pulls families apart  

What do we need such a movement?
Many families complain of overscheduled, frantic lives that lack family time for rituals such as dinners, weekend outings, extended vacations, and just hanging out together. In the pursuit of more opportunities for children in sports and other worthwhile activities, many parents have surrendered their family schedules to the escalating demands of outside activities. There is a widespread sense among families that they have lost their balance. Ironically, it appears that families with more means to provide for their children are at greatest risk. More outside choices, without a conscious focus on maintaining internal bonds, leads to hyperactive, emotionally depleted families

Why a community movement?
Why don't individual families just say no?We need a community movement because it is difficult for individual parents to take back family life in a culture that defines good parenting as providing more and doing more for oneีs children. Parents feel increasing pressure to involve their children at ever-younger ages in activities that consume more and more family time as the years go by. Seasons get longer, practices and games more frequent, fine arts programs more intense, religious youth programs more consuming. Parents face the choice of not involving their child in these enriching activities, or else surrendering their family time and losing their family rituals. Change must occur in communities and in individual families.

Is this an anti-sports movement?
No. In fact, a number of coaches and youth sports leaders are enthusiastic supporters of Family Life 1st. We believe that sports and other community activities can be important positive experiences for children, youth, and families. But we believe that current preoccupation with competition has diminished the rewards of sports at the same time as diminishing the quality of family life for many families.

Is this a political or religious movement about "family values"?
Family Life 1st is decidedly nonpartisan and non-sectarian. We want to support families of all kinds and of all beliefs to prioritize family time and family activities.

What would families do with family time if they took it back?
Family Life 1st is not focused mainly on the number of hours that families spend together. We envision families making conscious choices to turn their dinners into rituals of connection, to play games and recreate together, to worship together if they are religious, and to engage in citizenship activities that build and serve their communities. Families have much to teach one another about the creative use of time, including ways to set limits on television, the Internet, and other electronic media that have the potential to dominate family life in the home if we let them.

What about families who feel okay about their current priorities?
Not every family will want or need the Family Life 1st movement. We are not telling any particular family to change its balance between inside and outside activities. Family Life 1st is intended for two kinds of families: those who want to re-prioritize family life, and those who want support to maintain their current priority on family life.

What can I do in my community?
Family Life 1st was founded in Wayzata, Minnesota with the idea of spreading the movement to other communities. If you would like guidance about launching the movement in your community, click on HOW TO START A FAMILY LIFE 1ST MOVEMENT IN YOUR COMMUNITY.

Letter from parent and response by Bill Doherty for Family Life 1st
Question: "Between my two children (ages 8 and 10), we seem to be on the go every day of the week. I'd like to slow down the pace a little, but am afraid if I pull my kids out of their activities, they will lose out in the long run. How can I take time to be a family and still make sure my children will have opportunities to participate and compete when they are older?"

Response: You are not alone in your concern. Many parents now are trying to figure out a way to cut back without feeling as if they are depriving their children of important opportunities. My main suggestion is to focus on first things first. Decades of research show that strong family bonds are the most important ingredient in successful childhood, and we know that a good deal of family time is necessary for these close family bonds. No amount of other activities can substitute for missed family dinners, bedtime talks, weekend outings, family vacations, and just time to hang out together. These are the most important "opportunities" we provide for our children. (Isn't it strange that the term "opportunity" has come to mean something that our children do away from their family?) In addition, children need meaningful involvement in school and community activities, within reasonable time demands. I can't tell you how you should change your own family schedule; that's for you to decide based on your family's needs and values. But I hope you will keep first things first in your priorities -- and that means family life first. There will be a number of opportunities in this community this year to connect with other families working on the same challenges. I encourage you to become part of our local Family Life 1st movement. William Doherty