One of the things my wife has taught me is the importance of sitting down together as a family for supper. This wasn't easy for me – I grew up watching television during supper. Not only did we have a TV in the kitchen, but sometimes I would just grab my food and sit in the living room. Our family didn't make any concerted effort to sit and converse besides the larger gatherings for holidays. This had some negative consequences for me once I started dating my wife.
Once we started dating, I found myself sitting at a table for supper with my parents-in-law as well as her extended family quite often and I wasn't used to it. I learned then that I wasn't great at engaging in conversation with those I didn't (yet) know very well.
Supper time difficulty continued once we got married. My wife wanted regular supper practice to be sitting at the dinner table, while I wanted to balance our plates on our laps while we watched TV. This took time and adjustment for me.
By the time we had children, I was sold on the importance of sitting together for supper. Especially now that our children are beyond the infant and toddler stage, I think it is doubly important. Too many children today don't know how to carry a conversation, and I'm so happy that my children can carry a conversation and does not take off as soon as they are done.
Below are some points to keep in mind as you work to have a good supper routine:
- Have your children help set the table.
- Clean up after supper as a family. Kids can put (at least their own) dishes in the dishwasher, put condiments away, etc.
- Give thanks to God for your meal.
- Ask each person at the table what the best part of their day was.
- If you need more conversation, ask each person what the least favorite part of their day was, and what they learned from it.
- Normal practice should be for everyone to sit at the table until everyone is done. If children need to do something, they should get in the habit of asking if they can leave the table.
- Mom is the meal-maker in our house. Make sure the children thank mom out loud for their meal at some point. And if you are a dad, lead by example.
- If you are the "conversation co-ordinator" like I am, share something about your day as well. Your children will particularly like to hear about something funny that happened, and they will also value hearing about how you have learned from your mistakes.
- Depending on your family schedule, this may be an ideal time to read the Bible or do a family devotion. I have found this the best time for our family. I am typically done eating first, so as the rest are finishing up, I will begin reading the Bible. Make sure to take some time to discuss what you read. We shouldn't assume that our kids can listen and comprehend everything they are hearing.
- If you need to discuss something as a family, supper time is an ideal time as long as there is no chastisement involved. I have made this mistake of bringing something up at the table that should be a one-on-one conversation.
Do you have any other supper time practices? Tell me about them in the comments.