Have you ever to get everyone at the table for family dinner? It was almost like herding sheep to get our three children to wash their hands, set the table, and sit down ready for another to connect and share about our day. When our family would sit down together for family dinner it brought peace and joy to my soul.
Do you remember the television show called, “The Waltons?” Well, I’m sure that I must be telling “dating” my age if you aren’t familiar with the show. One thing I loved about the Walton family was the discipline of family dinner. I did not grow up in a household where we had family dinners, but I’m so appreciative of this time that I have with my husband and our children.
Time is one of those things that we can’t get back once it’s gone, so through the years this discipline has become valued and guarded.
When we sit down as a family, it would be therapeutic to talk about our daily life and the hassles that were faced at work and school. Eating together also promoted more sensible eating habits, which helped us live healthier lifestyles.
I can remember trying to serve “pig feet” for Sunday one afternoon and my husband’s response was “Are you trying to kill me and the children?” We laugh that this moment now, and yes, I would still eat this southern food, but it’s not the first choice or the best option for a healthy heart.
There have been times that I allowed other things to become more important than family dinner and I witnessed it immediately in my relationship with my family. I had to make a choice so that the children knew they had a “voice” and that every area of their lives was important to me. Every area of our lives is important to our God.
What could I change that would allow me to enjoy peaceful dinners with my family again?
What did I need to change so that I was keeping God First, Family Second and Career Third?
FAMILY TIME IS IMPORTANT
I had a friend introduce me to the concept of planning out the meals for the week. If I took an hour on Sunday evenings to plan ahead; it would prevent extra stops at the grocery store each day after work. That would be AWESOME.
Eating as a family has been proven to strengthen family bonds and provides time for the family to be together.
Routines, especially for younger children, provide a sense of security and belonging. As our children got older, even in the hecticness of after school practices and club meetings, they’d ask, “What time are we having dinner?”
I am a strong believer in the importance of having Family Dinner.
MY TOP 5 BENEFITS OF OUR FAMILY DINNER
1. IMPROVES COMMUNICATION
We live in the technology age and we are so busy that eating on the go is the way of life. Everything has to be texted, snap chatted or posted somewhere and the art of communication is lost. Personally, I want to look into my children’s eyes, hear the tone of your voice and be able to reach out to comfort them if they’ve had a difficult day.
Meals on-the-go may be necessary sometimes, please give yourself grace, yet remember the strong bond with one another that is developed around the table is priceless. Everyone leads disconnected lives these days, so let’s allow our families time to reconnect by planning dinner.
“One of the simplest and most effective ways for parents to be engaged in their teen’s lives is by having frequent family dinners.” Joseph Califand, Columbia University
2. LEARN FAMILY HISTORY
While having breakfast over the holidays when all three children were home, my husband was sharing a conversation he had with his aunt. The memories of his childhood and classmates were part of a story none of us had heard before. This led to our children wanting to know more about their ancestors. Our children have lived away from their grandparents and relatives most of their lives as military children, so family stories are extra special and very enduring.
It was a family dinner that they learned their great-grandmother was a Pastor in Arkansas. Wow, we’ve been married 31 years and I had missed this nugget of information.
3. BUILDS STRONG CHILDREN
Family is the single most important unit in a child’s life. Our children learn at an age to trust us.. The trust that children have in us as parents is the same we are to teach them to have for Christ. As a mother of three children, it was important to start teaching them scripture to build their own personal relationship with Christ and trust in God.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding, in all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. “ Proverbs 3:5,6
4. LEARN TO HANDLE STRESS
Dinner together as a family isn’t only important to our children, it’s important to me. I am relaxed and in a peaceful place when I sit down at the table with my family. Family meals have been great for my body, the physical health, the brains and academic performance of our children, not to mention the spiritual and mental health.
As a survivor of depression, I certainly wanted to safeguard our children from influences that would cripple their walk with Christ.
Research shows that the tradition of a family dinner help lower depression, reduce the risk of doing drugs, smoking cigarettes, and drinking alcohol.
Aren’t these areas that we want to protect our families?
5. TIME TO PRAISE & THANK GOD
Family dinner is a time to praise God for who He is and to thank Him for what He’s done. Approaching God with a heart of gratitude changes our focus and will bring joy to our lives.
And as we’ve recently celebrated this Easter season, it’s a reminder to remember that He is our Risen Savior and Lord.
My challenge to you this week.
- If you regularly allow phones at the table, try putting them away for a few earls and see what happens.
- Try some conversation starters to see if you can get answers others than,
“My day was good…” If you get that answer, ask “What was good about it?
- Make a goal to eat four meals together as a family, even if that means changing your dinner schedule or meal plan.
- Try something fun like a theme night. Thursdays for us was “Breakfast for Dinner”
- Add Candlelight to your dinner, this was my children’s favorite.
They loved it!
I’ve love to hear how your Family Dinner Challenge is going for you.
LaVonda is a speaker, author, and Life Coach specializing in women empowerment with a Christian-based approach, helping women find complete freedom as she teaches them to embrace their identity in Christ and build their faith. She lives with her pastor-husband and 3 children in Stuttgart, Germany. Connect with her at www.lavondamccullough.com.
Read LaVonda’s articles HERE.