Family meals should be important parts of the day for the whole family. These meals should be lovingly and carefully prepared. And most of all, this is a time of fellowship among family members.
In current times, our family structures have strayed far from the stereotype of “ideal”. In the past generations, ideal would be parents and young children living together. But because of changes in our society, we now have different structures. There are single moms, single dads, OFW families, extended families, and many more.
Sense of Family
There is a sense of great assurance in “family”. So whatever structure your family is, the leader should make it a point to provide that sense of assurance. Each member should feel validated, loved, and have a sense of belonging.
And the best time to do that is during family meals.
Why Family Meals are Important
Here are some reasons why family meals are important and should be given priority.
Even if you are blood-related, family members can easily become strangers. That is because the connection was somehow lost or cut along the way. A working parents or teenage children can easily become “boarders”. They treat the home like a boarding house because they come and go. There is no sense of belonging. And it also follows that there’s no sense of responsibility.
The connection between family members need to be reinforced everyday.
Talk about the day
Take great interest to what happened to your child’s or husband’s day. Ask them how their day went and the conversation will surely get going. If you are not used to doing this, it might take some prying to get them talking.
If you have young kids, they will have a lot of questions. I should know, I am a stay at home, homeschooling in Bacolod mom, so the questions all day are relentless.
But if there are sensitive questions, I’d rather that I answer them myself. If I don’t know the answer, I search them up online. It is during these times that I impart so much to them, just by answering questions.
Teach table manners
Children are not born with table manners. We need to teach them. The best time to teach them, of course, is during meal times. You can see how they are while dining, so you can guide or correct them on proper manners. That is our responsibility as parents.
Encourage them to eat healthy
We can easily guide our children to eat healthy by showing a good example. It is during family meal times that we can show the kids that we also eat our vegetables.
We get to pray together
Sometimes, we just say a harried pray because we are hungry. But most of the time, we do sit down for a heartfelt prayer. By doing so, we are inculcating an attitude of gratitude to the children. Plus, we would most likely see them develop that habit, too.
What You Should Not Do
Engage in gadgets
Family meal times are integral to connecting with family members. We, parents, should not handle gadgets during meal times, including the TV. At the same time, kids’ gadgets are also not allowed on the dinner table.
Sometimes, we learn something that will make us mad. Deal with these issues at a separate time. Eat and converse during family meal times and avoid getting mad. Everybody will easily lose their appetite when the mom is mad.
Avoid issuing threats during the meal. It will dampen everyone’s appetites.
When Common Time is a Problem
Our situations now have become very busy. Parents work while kids go to school. Mornings are usually harried just to keep everyone on time. Meanwhile, lunches can be hard to tackle because breaks are short.
So most of the time, it is dinnertime when everyone is almost always available. Try to keep your dinner times in sync. For parents, really try to eat dinner at home. Your kids won’t be kids for long. When they become teens, it would be harder to keep them altogether on the dinner table.
There are just times when it is hard to prepare food at home. This is especially true when parents are working and there’s no helper at home.
The easiest way to go about this is to eat. Or buy food for take out. It doesn’t have to be expensive. You can always find food that everyone likes. In our city, there are so many Bacolod restaurants you can choose from that are affordable and family-friendly.
During weekends, make family meal times more special. Make special dishes that your husband and kids like to add to their memory bank. Many years later, memories of your happy weekend family meal times will resonate. That will be part of their happy place. Here’s a couple of recipes that you might like:
I may not know your family set, your problems, or financial situation. All I know is that, we all need to eat. If we want to get to know our kids, the best thing is to spend time with them. And relaxed, happy, and comfortable family meal times can be the key.
Some of my ideas may not work with you, but I’m sure, with some study, you will find what will work for your family. God bless you!
Do share some of your insights on family meal times by commenting below.