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September 26, 2012
In many homes, dinnertime is the only time when the family actually gets together. This becomes more pronounced as children get older and schedules become more complicated. It’s unfortunate that many parents overemphasize manners or food choices or even use the table talk as a time to go over the offenses of the day or to further discipline children.
All of these things may be necessary or helpful at times but be careful not to develop a negative pattern. We say that more meals are ruined at the dinner table than at the stove. Instead, use mealtimes to share about the day. Talk about things you’ve learned and ask children to talk about their experiences. Children will learn valuable relationship skills like listening, asking questions, talking, and telling stories. Gentle reminders about listening, not interrupting, or letting someone else speak, can go a long way to teach children how to carry on conversations and enjoy others in the process.
Children learn from stories. As you share ways you’re growing or incidents that made an impression on your day, children apply them to their own lives. Laughing and being silly can add to a positive sense of family life. When appropriate, share how you have applied God’s Word in practical situations by the way you think or act. This helps children see that spirituality is not just a technique; it’s a lifestyle.
Some children make mealtimes a challenge. Hyperactivity or overly talkative youngsters can make civilized conversations difficult. Sibling conflict issues spill over into what might otherwise be pleasant conversations. Try to gently move things back on track. Redirect conversation and distract children by your enthusiasm and energy.
God promises us a special dinner at the end of this world. It’s called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. It will be a feast to celebrate our relationship with Christ. You can be sure that that meal will be special time of enjoying relationships.
To learn more about building positive relationships and closeness in family life, read chapters 6 and 8 in the book, Parenting is Heart Work, by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.