Upgraded Family Connection
Do you want to prevent your children from smoking, abusing drugs and alcohol?
Do you want a way to plug into your kids’ thoughts and emotions?
Do you want to boost your kids’ academic performances?
Do you want a proven way to keep your family feeling connected?
How do all these things happen?
By having dinner times together as a family.
Sharing dinner time, or other meal times, helps young children develop better language skills. Also because you spend the time focused on one another, kids feel more secure, connected and loved. The family table is a great place to model table manners, meal etiquette, social skills and for kids to learn their parents values and beliefs. It is also easier on the wallet. Buying meals out costs two to four times more than meals prepared at home.
This is one of those rituals when we married that we incorporated into our family. We have wonderful memories of us sitting around the dinner table talking and learning important lessons of life.
We always do two things in conversations at meal times. First, each person shares at least one thing that happened to them during the day. Knowing this always helped us think throughout the day what fun thing, blessing, or how God used us since we would be sharing it. Secondly, what is one thing we are thankful for that day. We base this on Ephesians 5:20, “Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Now we would like to give to you some ideas for your family connection consideration:
Recipe For Successful Family Meals
1. Start Small
Start where you are and take a few steps towards where you want to be. If you have only two nights a week available start there and build.
2. Plan Ahead
Before the week begins know what days will be family meals and work those into your schedule. Then use weekends to make advance meals so whoever gets home first can start the salad or heat up the entrée.
3. Get The Family Involved
Meal time is a great way to demonstrate teamwork from preparation and cooking to cleanup. We have had some of our best conversations as we cook and clean together.
4. Be Flexible
If someone in the family works late – eat later. We did this when Robert was a teenager and worked after school. We would eat a snack to help us last until a 7:30 dinner.
5. Eliminate Distractions
Turn OFF the TV. Put the land line phone and cell phones on automatic answer with a quiet ringer. This is a time to connect with one another and not be isolated from them with constant interruptions. Who/what is more important - TV and phone calls or each other?
6. Set Up Meal Time Rules
These rules will help assure you that your meal time together is a pleasurable experience.
--To keep the meal conversation positive no complaining, lecturing or dealing with conflict at that time.
--Train but do not nag the children about their manners and behavior.
--No battles over food. Example: When there is a new food, everyone has to take at least two bites to try it. If a child will not eat their meal (meaning a bit of defiance) then package it up and save it for when they are hungry and serve it to them again, but let them stay for the family conversation.
7. Be Creative
Here are some ideas for some different things to do for a fun meal:
A. Affirmation Bombardment Once A Week
Once a week someone is selected that everyone else will bombard with compliments, appreciation and affirmation during the meal (Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…..”)
B. Ethnic Meals Once A Week
Along with trying different foods, also discuss something about the cultures that would consume the food.
C. Formal Dinners – Quarterly
Set the table with your finest silverware, glasses, dishes and candles. Everybody dresses up. Practice using the correct utensils and dishware so everyone will be comfortable in social gatherings.
D. Spice Up Your Conversation
Try these questions during your meals: What was your favorite part of today? What is the one main thing you would like our family to do this summer? What is the best book you have read in the past six months? If you could ask God one question, what would it be? Questions like that.
E. Newbie Meal
Let your kids pick out a new recipe to try and work with them in preparing it.
F. Theme Night
On occasion set a theme for the meal. Example: A beach party with seafood, sitting on beach towels in the backyard, or a 50’s night with burgers (veggie burgers of course – ha) and shakes and play 50’s music.
Make your family meal times a priority. With Robert gone, and now with his own family, we continue to follow the above to keep our meal times fun , entertaining and educational. Family meal times is one of the best ways to show our family members that we want to be with them and show them we love them.
Here are some websites for families. Glean through them and we are sure you will find one, two or more that will be of interest and use to you --
Websites for Families
For reviews on Movies, DVD’s, T.V. programs and Music
Ministries that will help you in your parenting/family life. These are ministries we highly recommend.
Many articles, a newsletter, resources to help raise kids
They have a parenting newsletter (also in Spanish) and a lot of great listening and reading resources. Check out the books “Good and Angry – Exchanging Frustration For Character” and “Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining and Bad Attitudes”
Books that help with devotional and family fun nights. Lots of simple and clever ideas.
You can find immediate help with help for areas such as anger, sibling rivalry, empty nest to parenting teens. This site is from “Focus on the Family”
If you have a child in public school this is a must see site. It helps you understand what rights a Christian student has in school and how to express God’s love at school.
Websites for school help
Websites for summer fun for kids and parents Variety of sites for kids ranging in age from preschool to jr.high