Our daily lives can get caught up with everything that keeps us busy. We tend to spend time working and dealing with overwhelming demands, but our families often suffer. We all know that we need to spend time with our families – especially the children.
What is one of the most important times for you to bond with your children? We would like to suggest that it is dinner time. There are so many reasons why family dinners are important. Let’s look at some of these along with some tips to help facilitate family meals.
Family dinners set expectations for your children’s table manners
Family dinners establish several important behavioural habits. Setting expectations on your children’s table manners are vitally important at an early age.
How do your children communicate with each other and their elders? Do they talk when their mouth is full? Do they play with their food? Are they on time for meals? Do they come to the table cleaned up? Do they help get the table or food ready? Do they clear their dishes and help clean up after the meal? It is important that you establish and explain your expectations so that you can see if you need to help your children improve.
When you observe your children during family dinners, you will then see another important reason for spending this time with them.
Family meals help your children open up
Having open communication with your children is very important. You have no idea about how vital this aspect is during mealtime.
When you are focused on what your children are doing at school or with their friends, you can see if they are in a good mood or if they are having a bad day. Listening with interest will help your children open up. They will learn that you are available to them when dealing with challenges or if they have something positive to share.
Seeing how they act during mealtime helps you become sensitive to your children’s behaviour, which allows you to catch issues before they become a large problem. It does not even have to be a daily observation. As a parent, you can often tell if your children are not in the best mood, depressed, stressed, or hurt, and you can handle the situation properly. Mealtime is simply a useful way to keep in touch with their feelings and issues.
Mealtime can be used to teach your children about the Bible
Some of the best family conservations and fond memories that a child may have can be at mealtimes when you share important Bible lessons, which can help them see that they are on the right track. You can pick out verses that you can discuss as a family during dessert.
Or you can talk about your favourite stories about God’s handiwork found in publications like Creation Illustrated. See what interests them most — animal features, outdoor adventures, gardening, photography and colouring contests, etc. You have control over the dinner conversation, and you can guide your family to have a great time talking about the details of the Bible or God’s creation.
Family meals help teach your children about responsibility
Dinners do not always have to be seen as the Mom setting the table, cooking, and slaving away for the family. It can be an opportunity for you to gather as a unit and teach the children about how everyone can help put the meal together.
As you teach your children about various responsibilities, give each one a certain task so they can feel a part of the process. You can even assign small children the napkin folding and the bigger children the plate and utensil settings. It is fun and important to keep the whole mealtime as a family activity. Through these small moments of being together, you can see the value of the family dinner.
What does God say about meals?
In the Bible, you will find a lot of verses that talk about meals and the importance of sharing meals with your family. These are just some of the verses that the Bible talks about how to eat.
At the beginning of Creation in Genesis 1:29 God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you, it shall be for food.
In Ecclesiastes 9:7, the Bible gave instructions to “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.”
In 1 Corinthians 11:34, we learn “If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment.”
In Ecclesiastes 10:17 we read, “Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles, And your princes feast at the proper time— For strength and not for drunkenness!”
The bottom line is simple: family dinners and spending mealtimes with your children are considered among the most important things that you should know about and do as a family — especially when God is a vital part of meals that showcase family values.
Among the many benefits of family dinners, the most important one perhaps is the fact that everyone is allowed to share bread and stories of the day. Not only will you be able to tell your children about the blessings of the day, but you will also learn about how their day went and what is important to them.