It seems that eating dinner around the family table is becoming non-existent. I remember growing up that you had to be home at 6pm for dinner, you stayed outside playing all day- rain or shine, but when that dinner time came, you ran in to wash up and headed to the table.
These days when speaking to my friends, they tell me they rarely have time to eat together and usually eat in shifts or at the kitchen counter. I think this is a real missed opportunity. We are all so busy in our lives with so many extracurricular activities that we are missing out on an important time of the day and more important, a teaching lesson.
At our house, we sit down every night and talk about the day. One of us always begins “so how was your day?” then the stories run endlessly. We talk about if there is an issue at school and what homework needs to be finished or upcoming projects nearing deadlines. Megan tells me about her day and I tell her about mine. Of course I don’t tell her all the details about my day like I would with another adult, but I do let her know that some days are better than others so that she understands that not all days are good and sometimes you have to deal with people that don’t share common goals just to get a project done.
I think it is important to let children know the good things and not so good things that happen or just things I did during the day so they have an idea of what types of things I do at work. Sometimes this is a good time to discuss friendships and how to relate to others. We talk about friends because my daughter has just started the age of clicks and groups with a lot of who said what to who. This is a great learning time for me to ask questions and find out how a situation made her feel and what we can do in the future to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I support good decisions and try to let her understand on her own a different way to handle a situation in the future. It’s ok to back out of the situation as she can’t solve everyone’s problems as she tends to want to.
But maybe in your household you have different work schedules or activities and that is ok too. That is what makes us different but I would encourage another time to get together. If you are a morning person, make breakfast the gathering time.
Even if you can’t have dinner every night together, I would suggest at least one night a week, maybe a “Sunday Supper Night”. This way everyone gets the entertainment of listening to each other’s activities for the week.
As we raise our children many of us being both mom and dad it is important to give our children quality time and dinner time is one of the best times that is uninterrupted to accomplish this.
Tips to Encourage Family Talk
- Pick a time when everyone is available
- Turn off all electronics including the television. This is about the family news not world news.
- Be open to what your children want to talk about-some days they may be more open than others.
- Be Patient and hold judgements. This is a learning time for everyone.