An argument could easily be made that today’s families are busier than they’ve ever been. The pace of life seems to constantly force our families to run faster and faster. The idea of a consistent family dinner is inconceivable to most parents. And while it may not be possible to gather around the dinner table on a nightly basis, it is worth considering the benefits of doing so whenever possible.
Here are a few reasons why family dinners still matter:
1) Social Interaction
Family meals are opportunities to teach and prepare your children for society, and the family table is often the first-place children learn social skills such as manners, etiquette, politeness, and even conversation. These things are slowly fading in our society as more as more families move away from a shared eating experience.
The family meal table is also a place where your family can talk about life and discuss the events of their day. As you share the ups and downs of social interactions and challenges, these are teachable and priceless moments with your child. This should also be a safe place to talk about society itself, as you discuss current news, topics, and even politics… politely.
At first, this might seem to be a given. A meal equals sustenance… but, does it? In our fast-moving world of snacks and junk food, do our children really know what to eat? If every meal is on the run, or on our own, do our children leave home knowing how to cook and prepare a meal for themselves?
A family meal is the obvious moment to teach about healthy eating and nutritious food choices. A family meal does not always have to be homemade and perfectly healthy, but consider it an opportunity to taste and experience healthier options.
Make it fun with a shopping trip earlier in the week to a local market.
Make it a challenge as you cook and prepare the meal together.
Make it an adventure by having one item that is healthy, that your child has never tried.
Make it sustainable by talking about monetary and bodily stewardship – discussing the value of food, both by price and health.
3) Spiritual Growth
“And they broke bread together…” Do you realize how many times food is mentioned in the Bible?
Have you ever noticed the stories about meals and those that take place around meals? Even Jesus chose to make one of the most powerful, symbolic remembrances of himself, around a meal.
A family meal can have spiritual power and significance.
When the devices are turned off and the only form of “entertainment” is face-to-face, these moments can provide an opportunity to talk about God, while experiencing His physical blessings and provision.
Meals together can provide opportunities for dialogue, questions, and Bible study.
Consider making your family meal a time where you share a family devotion and have a time of prayer. These meals can create an oasis of peace, away from distractions and a busy family schedule.
Dinner time around the table…it’s becoming a lost art. Make an effort not to let it disappear completely!
The Saddleback Parents Team