I would guess that if I was to ask readers of this blog to describe their family in only one word, the dominant answer would be “busy”.

I’m a working mom with three children.  I can relate.

As the “back to school” season is upon us, the primary question on my mind has been:  What 20% of my time (both at the Fuller Youth Institute and with my family) yields 80% of the most important results?  That question is based on the Pareto Principle, a theory developed by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, that 20% of a business’ clients produce 80% of its profits.  Approximately 20% of a company’s salespeople yield 80% of its sales.

So my husband, Dave, and I are asking ourselves:  what 20% of our family activities are the most meaningful and bonding?  For the Powell family, we think it’s:

1. Extended time together, whether that means going out of town or doing something locally for several hours.

2. One on one time with our kids.

3. School projects. (My husband is masterful at making the planning and execution of school projects a highlight of his time with our kids.  He’s by far the more patient and crafty of the two of us.  I entered our marriage without a glue gun.  He owned two.)

What do all three of these elements share?  Time in relaxed conversation.

One of the themes in our Sticky Faith research, a six-year research project involving over 500 youth group graduates to try to determine what families and churches could do to build faith that lasts, is the power of parent/child conversations.  Not only is time together important, but one of the research findings that has most impacted me as a mom is that it’s not just important for me to ask my kids questions.  It is equally important for me to share about my own life and my own faith journey—both in the past as well as in the present.

Probably more than any other facet of our Sticky Faith research, this has impacted my daily parenting.  In the midst of soccer practices and homework, I’m trying to make relaxed, eye-to-eye conversations more of a priority.  I try both to ask my kids questions about their days and also share about mine, even asking over dinner:  How did each of us see God at work today?  It’s not easy, and I fail day after day, but I’m more and more determined to make that 20% a priority.

So let me ask you this:  what 20% of what you do together as a family provokes the best, most authentic conversations?  Of the remaining 80%, what can you do less of so that you make sure you have time for that 20%?

To find out more or access additional resources, visit stickyfaith.org.