Making Dinner Table Conversations Count

August 19, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

Summary

Dads, do you make good use of dinner table time to communicate with your children? Do you even make time for dinner as a family? How can you take an ordinary meal and turn it into a time to listen to your children and reach them on a new level?

Objective

Our lives are so busy with work, taking Johnny to football, taking Mary to soccer, and all the many engagements and obligations we have to deal with. How can we as fathers:

  • Preserve and enhance family values by eating together as a family
  • Take the opportunity to hear what our children have to say about their lives
  • Take the opportunity to create learning moments of our Christian values
  • Take the opportunity to see how our children interact with each other
  • Strengthen the example we are as Husband and Wife, a team, in front of our children

Bible Readings

1. Deuteronomy 6: 6-7

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

2. Hebrews 12: 7-11

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

3. Matthew 18: 10-14

See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 1601

“The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament

2. Paragraph 2223

Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the “material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.” Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them:

He who loves his son will not spare the rod. . . . He who disciplines his son will profit by him.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

3. Paragraph 1784

The education of the conscience is a lifelong task. From the earliest years, it awakens the child to the knowledge and practice of the interior law recognized by conscience. Prudent education teaches virtue; it prevents or cures fear, selfishness and pride, resentment arising from guilt, and feelings of complacency, born of human weakness and faults. The education of the conscience guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart.

Small Group Questions

  1. How often do you have dinner together as a family? Have you and your wife made this a priority? Do you have a target number of days where you make an effort to make this happen?
  2. How important was dinner as a family to your upbringing? Do you engender that same or an improved experience?
  3. Who is the first up from the dinner table? Is it you because you have so much to do?
  4. Do you encourage each of your children to talk during dinner? Do you take the time to reinforce positive values and actions. Can you do this without passing judgment in front of everyone?
  5. How do you manage to talk to your children and communicate Christian values without being too much of a preacher?

Recommended Resources

1. Family Dinner Conversation Starters
http://fatherhood.about.com/od/challenges/a/dinner_talk.htm

Accountability

  1. If you don’t have a set goal of having dinner as a family, discuss this with your wife and set a goal.
  2. When you do have dinner as a family, set a goal to listen and be the LAST one up from the table.
  3. Look for ways to increase family discussion and bonding around the dinner table, you’ll be amazed how it carries through in their adult lives as siblings.

Author(s)

Reid Rooney (Previously -Dan Lape)

Included Resources

1. Article by Eronne Ward:
http://ezinearticles.com/?Eating-Dinner-With-the-Family—Its-More-Important-Than-You-Might-Think&id=2450865

When was the last time you had dinner with your family? It is the meal we often skip because we work late, the kids have sporting events or we get tired from daily activities. But, skipping dinner with the family is not a good practice. In fact, it is detrimental to the family dynamic.

There are some interesting facts surrounding family dinner time. For instance, teens that spend dinner time eating with their family are less likely to get involved in drugs, alcohol or other illicit activity. This is a point many parents will find interesting. Out of all of the things you do to try to keep your kids away from bad influences, the one thing that is the greatest influence is still the event that we skip routinely.

Family dinners are more than just a meal. It is about the only time that families have to share time through the week. Whether you sit down to the dinner table or enjoy a meal and a movie on tray tables in the family room, the important thing is that you are together.

The main point is that conversation is taking place. The average parent talks to their child less than 40 minutes a week. It takes a second to say “Hi” when you come in at night, but that isn’t effective communication. When dinner is shared by the family, you spend at least 45 minutes to an hour talking about everything and anything that may be on your mind. Even if you are watching a television program, engaging questions can arise from topics addressed in the program.

Why is dinner so important? For one thing, it is a time to share thoughts and feelings. All day, kids are influenced by teachers, friends and the outside world. At the dinner table, they get a chance to connect with their parents on tough issues like schoolwork, peer pressure, friendships and other things. Children can each share and help one another with helpful suggestions. Parents can even talk about work or family finances over a meal.

Young children learn how to communicate with their siblings and parents. They are the center of attention with questions about their day and it makes them feel happy. You know that kids always want to be in the limelight when they are a certain age and this helps them learn to share the spot with others.

For teenage girls, body image is often a very relevant issue. Through family dinners, they can learn to prepare and eat healthy meals, learn that eating right will keep their bodies in shape, and of utmost importance, learn not to avoid food. Teen girls are less likely to become the victim of an eating disorder and more likely to develop a healthy view of food and their bodies when they eat dinner with their families.

There are many benefits to eating dinner with the family. It is a time for meaningful communication that leads to stronger self-images, as well as a greater resistance to the urges of drugs, alcohol, peer-pressure, and other destructive behaviors in your kids and teens. For all these reasons as well as to help unite the family, a concerted effort should be made to make family dinners a common practice.

2. FAMILY DINNER CONVERSATION STARTERS…great 1 page grid with examples… http://www.iespta.org/files/FAMILY_DINNER_CONVERSATION_STARTERS.pdf

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