When asked to name one of my strengths recently, my oldest daughter told me, "you always make sure we have healthy food and that we always eat dinner together." I never thought that was a strength. I assumed that family dinner happened nightly for most families. After asking my girls about their friends' families I found out that it was a rarity, not the standard.
Is it true that families don't eat dinner together these days? Are people in such a hurry in their lives that they can't make the time to gather and sit down at a family meal anymore?
Although our dinner time fluctuates from day to day based on what activities we have, I make sure that my kids know dinner time is family time and therefore sacred time. We aren't allowed to have any electronic devices at the table. If your phone buzzes or rings, you're not allowed to pick it up. Crazy, but good.
Dinner time is different than any other meal. We start with a quick read from the scriptures and a kneeling family prayer. We take turns listening to each other. Everyone talks about their day, if they want to share. We ask about their favorite part of the day and usually have a few good laughs. We discuss current events, social situations, difficulties at school or work, small successes, funny stories and plans for the future. Some of our favorite times happen after everyone is finished eating, but stays at the table because we're having such a good time together. Those moments are golden.
Most of the time it's not perfect, though. Often we have interrupting, kicking, poking, shoving, crying, stealing food from someone else or taking seconds without asking if anyone else wants more. Family life at its finest.
But, we keep trying.
Family dinner time is the best opportunity to teach my kids how to be gracious, polite, kind, patient, tolerant and well-mannered people.
Kids need their parent's undivided attention more than ever these days. Dinner time is the best time to do that. No TV, no smart phones, no distractions — just a good meal with those we love best in the world.
Do you have family dinner? If not, why?