Family dinners seem to have become a thing of the past. I say, Let s bring em back! Dinner time is a time when you can show as a family your appreciation for all your blessings, share disappointments, accomplishments and feelings and create memories that last forever.
It is only tricky to make sure you eat together if you make it tricky. I refuse to accept it when people say, It s impossible to eat together. Everyone has got something going on. Exactly. Family comes first and if everyone is running around then family life is not being made a priority.
Ideally, most of your dinners should be ones where everyone is present. Of course, the odd scheduling conflict might arise, but all in all work everyone s schedules around dinner time. I have many friends whose husbands are investment bankers. This job is a time-consuming job and often requires them to stay at work a little later than the typical 5:00 p.m.
Both of their husbands make it a rule to leave work by 6:30 p.m so they are home for dinner at 7:00 p.m. This sounds late, I know, but both of my friends have made this a priority. If you have little ones, feed them, bathe them, and around the time dad gets home, give them a bottle to enjoy while the rest eat dinner. If you have older, school-aged children, let them have a substantial snack after school, do their homework, have some downtime, then sit down to eat when dad gets home.
Why is dinner time so important It is one time, each day, when your family connects. Much can be accomplished at dinner time. Here are a couple of ways to make meal time extra special and meaningful for your family.
1) Show your children and spouse that they are the most important people in your life DO NOT ANSWER THE TELEPHONE DURING MEAL TIME! (Unless of course, you hear the caller leaving an emergency message) My husband taught me this. I used to jump up and sometimes be held on the phone for far too long. He would be sitting at the table, alone, finishing his meal, while I sat on the couch listening to someone else talk.
One night he sat me down and said, Look, family time is family time. This is an opportunity for us to be together. We need to make this a priority. Let s leave the answering machine take a message during dinners, okay The fact that this meant that much to him really touched me. It made me feel loved and that he valued spending quality time with me.
Ever since that night, it has been a rule in our house that no one answers the phone during dinner unless it s an emergency. Show your family how much you value them, and let that answering machine do its job.
2) Use dinner time as a time to get to know about your children s lives. It s important in this day in age that your children feel comfortable to talk you about their lives. Knowing who your children spend time with and how they spend that time is really critical in our world today. Many parents have complained to me about the one word answers they receive when they ask their child a question. They say, I ask how his day was and he just says, Fine . How do I get him to open up more
There are a variety of techniques that teachers use when asking questions. Based on what type of response we want, we word the question differently. If you want specific answers then be sure to ask specific questions. For example, if you want to know who they are spending time with ask, Who did you play with at recess today If you want to know what they are studying, ask: What did you learn in Geography class today
If you want more back-and-forth discussion, then be sure to ask open-ended questions. Form a question that cannot be answered as a one word answer or a “yes” or “no” answer. Phrases like, Do you think .. or Tell me about are perfect.
3) A wonderful way to use dinner time is to instill positive character traits to your children. Ask your kids the following questions periodically; they will help your children discover how they fit into this world, and how to be compassionate, generous, and kind. What’s better than this
- What did you do today that made you proud of yourself
- What kind of problem did you solve today
- Tell me about something you did alone today that you enjoyed.
- Tell me about something you did with someone else today that you really enjoyed.
- Tell me about something you found difficult to do Easy to do
- Tell me about a mistake you realized you made What did you do about it
- Tell me about a time today where you showed compassion towards yourself or someone else.
- Tell me about a time today when you were generous. How did the other person look or react when you did this How did you feel
In order to make this a natural conversation, why not share a problem you had that you solved and THEN ask them the question Or, share how you were generous that day and the reaction you received from the person on the other end. You’ll be amazed at how your children will want to open up after hearing your story.