Is is truly possible to connect with your kids over dinner? I believe the answer to that is a resounding “yes”!
I’ll never forget the first few months of the dinner hour after my husband and I became parents. Our newborn daughter would sleep half the day, but it seemed like she came wide awake right when we sat down to eat.
She would cry and scream, and dinner was anything but peaceful.
The toddler years held their fair share of tantrums, food refusal, and food on the floor.
While the dinner hour used to be a bit stressful during the baby and toddler years, as our girls have entered elementary school, I’ve been able to see things turn for the better.
Now, we can have full, intelligent conversations with our girls–who are 9, 7, and 5.
Although my dad often worked late hours, my parents did their best to ensure that our family spent dinner time at the family table.
We discussed our days, and I am convinced that these times fostered a deeper relationship with my parents that then became the foundation of mine and my siblings’ own relationship with God.
As my husband and I have placed a priority of spending the dinner hour together with our four children, there are three rules we’ve set in place to foster an environment where we can draw closer to each other–and to God.
Connect With Your Kids Over Dinner
3 Rules to Follow for a Lifegiving Table
1. No hand-held electronics.
I’m so glad that I had a childhood free of cell phones and other electronics. The closest thing we came to an electronic device that we could have brought to the dinner table was a Nintendo Gameboy (remember those?!).
Our children will never know a world without electronic devices, but that doesn’t mean we have to allow them free reign to use them whenever they want!
Our children are still too young for cell phones. (And honestly? We want to delay our kids having cell phones for as long as we can!)
However, they do have Leap Pads. We have a set rule that they are not allowed to play on their Leap Pads during meal times. As well, my husband and I aren’t to be on our cell phones either, so we can set a good example for our kids.
2. No TV.
Yes, televisions are technically electronic devices themselves, but we keep this in a separate category.
TV dinners were a staple in homes across America in the 80s and 90s, but our family–and many others–are trying to combat that.
Watching TV while glued to the boob tube does nothing for familiar relationships–or your waistline!
It’s easy to overeat when we are not mindful or paying attention to how much we are eating while our minds are involved with the characters in shows and movies!
While our kitchen table opens up into our den, where we have a television, we have a strict rule that the TV cannot be on during the dinner hour.
Yes, there are times when our girls complain about this, but they know it’s a rule that we cannot break.
3. Intentional Discussion.
This is my most favorite dinnertime rule, but it’s the first two that lead to the beauty of this one.
While we are eating dinner, we use specific questions to make way for intentional discussion. Right now, it’s a simple game of two roses and a thorn.
We go around the table and each person in the family (besides the baby, although his time is coming!) takes a turn and gives two “roses” and one “thorn” from their day. The roses are good or exciting things that happened–from a joke that someone told that made them laugh to a special treat to getting a good grade on a test. The “thorns” are something bad or disappointing that happened.
My friend Beth introduced our family to this game when she was visiting us about a year and a half ago, and it’s been a staple at our table ever since!
The Lifegiving Table
If you’re lacking inspiration for connecting with your kids over dinner, I highly recommend the new book by Sally Clarkson, The Lifegiving Table.
Sally and her husband are parents to four children who are now adults. In this book, Sally recounts ways in which she and her husband used the dinner hour to disciple both their children and others in their community. She shares different ways that meals served at home and time spent gathered together around a table is a way to connect more deeply with friends and family. She gives ideas–and recipes!–on how to host others and create places of rest, renewal, love, and inspiration around our tables!
Check out The Lifegiving Table on Amazon or wherever books are sold.
What are your best ideas for connecting with your kids over dinner?
Thank you, Tyndale, for partnering with us to provide this post!