The Family Meal

Posted: January 17, 2012 in Parenting
Tags: , , ,

Eating together as a family is a rarity.

As a parent of teens,  all our kids are into cell phones, facebook, sports, friends, school clubs, and our youth ministry. For them, it seems like there’s always homework to complete, something to do, someplace to go, someone to see, something to post, etc.  My parents tried to “protect & prioritize” our family time by having dinner together during the week.  My wife and I have continued that tradition as best we can.

Here are some of the things we’ve noticed as a result:

1. Helps us communicate face to face.  Our kids have mastered communicating through the technical revolution with cell phones, blogging and facebook, but unless we MAKE them–they’re losing the art of simply TALKING with each other. This forces us into the great, lost art of the face -to-face conversation.  So much of communicating is through tone-of-voice & body language.

2. We get to share in each other’s journey, joys, and sorrows.  It’s great to hear how EVERYBODY is doing.  What we’ve noticed is that sometimes, mom & dad will really be wrestling with something, but the kids aren’t up to speed on it.  Another time, two of our girls had really been talking about something they were having a hard time dealing with at school and the rest of us were in the dark.

3. Helps us make ‘big decisions’ together.  Sometimes, after dinner we’ll huddle up for a “family meeting”.  Recently, some of our family discussions have centered around whether or not to “foster-to-adopt”, to move back to Surprise, and more!  Like I said, these are major decisions and it’s great to sort through these together. Our goal is to have complete unity as a family.

4.  Keeps us “on purpose”.  We use this as a centerpiece of our day.  We all know that no matter what our day looks like, we can come home and get “caught up” during dinner, then disperse for homework or evening plans. It’s a great “break” after a long day of meetings, classwork, going to practice, etc.  Helps us recharge and refocus for the rest of the evening.

5. Creates “team” atmosphere.  We’ve started to have some fun with HOW we gather.  We usually make a menu and all of us take turns preparing dinner.  We tag-team the set-up and clean-up as well.  It gets all of us involved and working together.

6. Helps us to make priority for each other.  We make it a point to turn OFF our cell phones and TV during our family meal.  Previously, the TV would be on and we’d end up watching it or hearing it from the other room.  We try to show our kids that during this time, family comes first!

7. Great opportunity to pray together. We noticed that we seldom gather for a ‘family prayer’, and this helps keep that a priority. We try not to just pray for the meal, but we gather to pray for each other as well.  It really helps us to ‘mix up’ our meal time prayer and not just pray the same thing over and over.  It gets us all sharing and harnessing God’s power for each other.  Powerful!

The early church enjoyed this type of experience as well:

Acts 2:42-47 (NIV) 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Maybe they realized the value of community.  Maybe they enjoyed the experience of meeting & eating together.  Maybe they enjoyed seeing God work through their church family in a powerful way.  I hope God works through our family, too.

Obviously, we can’t do this EVERY night.  Our goal is 3-5 dinners together per week.  I hope our kids look forward to this as much as Christy and I do. I hope they continue this tradition.  I hope they prioritize talking and meeting together as a family.

What’s for dinner?

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