Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Principled Commitment: An Adult Program on Building Strong Relationships

Activity 2: The Role Of Play In Relationships

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint
  • Easel
  • Markers
  • Low-stick masking tape

Description of Activity

Ask participants to recall the guided meditation from the workshop's opening and how they envisioned interacting playfully. Invite them to call out one word that describes why that virtual experience was enjoyable. List the responses on newsprint. No discussion is necessary. When a variety of words have been listed, post the newsprint on the wall.

Explain that the topic for this workshop is the role of play in relationships. Encourage the keeping of a playful mindset for today's activities. You may wish to set the stage with a joke or two of your own, or begin with the following joke, found on the Internet:

Q: How many Unitarian Universalists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: The Unitarian Universalists wish to make the following statement: "We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb; however, if in your own journey you have found that light bulbs work for you, that is fine. You are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your personal relationship with your light bulb and present it next month at our annual light bulb Sunday service, during which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, three-way, long-life, and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence."

If time allows, you may also invite a few participants to share their favorite jokes. Ask them to be mindful that not everyone is comfortable with risqu?umor or humor that plays upon gender and ethnic stereotypes.

Offer these or similar words of focus:

Play is an important part of a child's development. It is an avenue for growth, assimilation, learning, sensory experience, and self-expression. Child development experts have suggested that children need to play in order to grow and thrive.

Researchers also know that play is an important aspect of the human experience for adults. We like to laugh, play games, and use our imagination and creativity throughout our lives.

In relationships, a spirit of playfulness can ease tensions, build intimacy, facilitate connection, help us solve problems, and lower stress. Today we'll look at some ways in which we can bring the spirit of play into our relationships to help them thrive.

Invite participants to engage in a guided reflection about how the meaning of play has changed throughout their lives. Explain that as you ask each question, they are to reflect on it silently. (Keep the pace brisk, allowing just three to five seconds of silence after each question.) Ask:

  • Picture yourself as a preschooler. How did you play? What did you enjoy the most?
  • In elementary school, how did you play? What did you enjoy the most?
  • In high school, how did you play? What did you enjoy the most?
  • Now that you're an adult, do you still play? If so, what do you enjoy the most?

Invite participants into the discussion by asking:

  • How has play changed for you at each stage of the life cycle?
  • What are some ways you enjoy playing today?
  • Is it easier to be playful when you're around children or when you're around adults? Why?
  • What makes it okay for adults to be playful together?