One of the things I’ve been accustomed to growing up was having dinner table conversations with the family. We don’t get to do it every day but we usually have one on weekends because my dad used to work for a department store as a supervisor and here in the Philippines, stores usually close at around 8PM on weekdays and 9PM on weekends so my dad usually arrived around 9:30 to 10:00 PM when everyone is already getting ready to go to bed.
I’ll never forget the benefits and life lessons this tradition has brought me, so much so that I’ve made sure to continue with it this time with my own family. As young as my kids are, I’m already beginning to see how much they enjoy having meals together. We made them understand that meals should be taken in the dining table with the whole family and discouraged them from eating in front of the TV.
Dinner table conversations has its benefits in the long run and that is the reason why we’ve been training our kids to get used to this setup. I believe I am where I am right now in part because of this tradition.
So what are the key benefits of family dinner table conversations?
It develops discipline
This is especially true among kids and even teens alike. Being aware that people await their presence helps them learn how to prioritize.
For kids, they will develop the good habit of eating at the dinner table instead of taking their meals in front of the TV or eat while playing with their toys. They learn to distinguish what’s right from wrong when we establish the idea as to how they should consume their meals.
For teens, it develops a sense of responsibility by knowing when to go home and stop hanging out with friends so they can make it in time for dinner. Teenage years is the time when your kids begin to be more involved with their friends which is perfectly normal, but you also need to teach them how to divide their time between friends and family.
I was into basketball when I was in high school. I can play all day long if I wanted to but I always made sure that come dinner time, I’m there with the family because my parents have instilled in me the importance of having dinner together.
It helps you get to know your kids better
Dinner time is the best time to have meaningful conversation. It’s when we get to know how our days went and what’s happening in our respective “worlds”. This is also the perfect time to ask your kids how they’re doing in school or what subjects they’re having difficulties with.
Having these dinner table conversations regularly make them comfortable in confiding and opening up to you. This is critical especially for teenagers or kids going through adolescence because this is the time when they need your guidance on things that they are starting to discover about life and society. This is when they need you to be able to answer the questions that have been bothering them and clarify for them things that’s been bugging their curiosity.
Kids look forward to these meals because it’s their chance to bond with you after a long and stressful week in the office.
My kids are aged 12, 6, and 4 and I would probably know less compared to what I know about them now if we don’t have meals together. I wouldn’t know that my six year-old daughter Shae is good at memorizing lyrics of different songs, I wouldn’t see how great my son Keon’s sense of humor is and how much Kylie knew about volleyball.
It’s the best time to impart values
Whenever we eat together, it has always been our routine to let the kids lead the prayer before meals. At times we even say two prayers because the little ones both volunteered and as such, both requests should be acknowledged or there’s going to be chaos.
By doing this, we’re able to train our children to not only be God-fearing but also to be thankful and respectful of the food we have served in front of us. We always tell them to finish their food because they are lucky to have something to eat when there are others who are not as fortunate as them.
Simply passing food around or to the person next to them trains them to be generous and to always share their blessings with others.
Communication breeds trust
The conversations you have with your family at the dinner table is vital to your kids’ growth and development. By being given a chance to speak in front of everyone, we are slowly but surely improving their self-confidence. It also gives them solace that people are listening to what they have to say and that their family cares for them.
Just as communication is important in a company, it is equally important in a household. At work, communication is the key for the company to succeed. If everyone knows what they need to do and how they contribute to the company’s success, more often than not, the company becomes profitable because communication builds relationships and it develops trust among co-workers. Running a family is no different.
If our kids know what we expect of them and if they understand their roles in the family, I don’t see any reason why they will grow to become irresponsible or rebellious.
I remember this TV ad where a teenage girl was having dinner with her parents when she reluctantly told them that her friend was pregnant much to the relief of her parents who both thought initially that it was her who was expecting. The girl asked if being pregnant was difficult to which the mom replied that being a mother is even more difficult.
There was a disclaimer at the end of the ad that 2 out of 3 teenage girls long to have dinner with their parents so they can ask questions relating to sex. The moral of the story was that parents need to be present to answer such questions because if they aren’t, kids will be seeking answers from someone else.
Take time to have dinner with the family even if not that often. Give your child an avenue to talk to you on a more personal level and let you answer all of their questions.
Over to You
Do you have regular dinner table conversations with your family? What do you talk about most of the time?
I would love to hear from you so I encourage you to leave a comment below.
SUBSCRIBE TO THE BLOG and be part of a growing community!