According to WebMD, when families eat together on a regular basis the children are less likely to become overweight, more likely to abstain from risky behaviors such as smoking, drinking, or drugs, and tend to perform better overall academically and socially. Unfortunately, we often allow technology and the busyness of life to creep into a time that should be reserved for family bonding. Believe me, the conviction is rising on this end too even as I type this! If in fact you have caught yourself falling short in this area, adjustments can surely be made.
Here are a four quick tips:
- The obvious one is to shut off all distractions such as cell phones, TV, tablets, etc…
Too much screen time is unhealthy for anyone, and I assure you nothing is going to happen on Facebook that is more important than investing in time with your children. And parents, please take the initiative on this! If they see you checking your phone once in a while then the entire purpose of the time together will be greatly hindered.
- Open up the conversation.
During a recent dinner with my wife and daughter, I began the meal by asking them both something that they did during the week that was productive. As I had hoped, a simple question such as this broke into a few tangents and began a fun and enjoyable conversation. Families that can be open and honest during relaxed times will surely be more likely to share more difficult feelings during challenging times.
- Be prepared to listen!
Please don’t turn this into some mundane exercise that you go through and hope for the best results. As the WebMD article above states, your children are more likely to really open up to what is going on in their lives and you may catch something that can be addressed before it becomes more serious. If anything, they will pick up on your genuine interest in listening to what they have to say and that will build their self-esteem and confidence.
- Read scripture after dinner. Jesus tells us that “Man shall not live on bread alone, but out of every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
In other words, food fills our temporal bodies, but God’s Word fills our spirit! It doesn’t have to be long; a short passage nightly will build a foundation for them for years to come.
Whether you are married or doing life as a single parent, make the adjustments to have regular and healthy meals with your kids. It is too important to pass up. Don’t wait! Let’s bring dinner back where it belongs… at the dinner table!
Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees as they sit around your table.
Psalm 128:3b (NLT)
Parents, are you intentionally having dinner regularly at the dinner table with your children?
By Matt Haviland
Husband to Christy, Dad of one daughter
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Founder of A Father’s Walk
Author of A Father’s Walk: A Christian-Based Resource for Single Fathers,
Co-author of The Daddy Gap