Tales From the Dinner Table

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When I was growing up we had dinner every night between 5 and 6 pm. We sat down at the dinner table as a family. It was my job to set the table, and no one could eat until we were all seated and ready to eat. As I got older, and my schedule became more hectic, my family still made it a priority to sit down together around the kitchen table as often as possible. And when I would come home from dance practice late, my mother or father would sit with me while I ate my dinner.

When I began my own family, I knew that this would be a non-negotiable for me in the way I ran my family. I am extremely close to my parents, and I feel that is large in part due to the time we spent talking and enjoying each others company over a good meal. So even when my oldest Adrianna daughter Adrianna was a baby, Jason and I would position her highchair right up to the table and sit down for a family meal.

Our family life is CRAZY!!! Between my group exercise classes, traveling schedule, and their sporting events, there is never a dull moment ….but we are committed to eating at that dinner table at least four times a week, if not more. Why is that you might wonder? Here are my three reasons which I will explain in the following paragraphs.

1. Elbows off the table

2. Social Interaction

3. Family is important

ELBOWS OFF THE TABLEthe dinner table is a great place for children to learn MANNERS and table ETIQUETTE! And no, I am not concerned with whether they use the correct fork or not. I do however, want my children to know to chew with their mouth closed, put their napkin in their lap, hold their fork like an eating utensil not a shovel, and keep their elbows off the table. Remember, as parents its our job to model the kind of adult we want them to be and no one likes to eat a meal with someone with poor table manners. If you eat dinner around the table with good manners on a regular basis, this will become routine to your children and they will practice this behavior no matter where or with whom they are consuming a meal with.
SOCIAL INTERACTIONwhile there are many positives to the technology explosion in our culture, one of the main drawbacks is the lack of appropriate social interaction that takes place. We do not allow cell phones, ipads, ipods, or anything with on an on/off switch at our meal time. I want my children to be able to carry on a meaningful conversation without the aid of an LOL or LMAO. To help us, we do “3 things about your day” at the start of our dinner every night. Each family member has to tell 3 significant things about either their work or school day while the rest of the family listens and asks questions. This also solves the problem of getting the response NOTHING, when asking HOW WAS SCHOOL TODAY. Sometimes we also play categories to keep the conversation going. This is a simple meal time game that involves picking a category and using every letter of the alphabet. For example, if we did fruits we would go around the table saying, APPLE, BANANA, CHERRY….Involving your children in conversation at the dinner table teaches them how to act in social situations, how not to interrupt when others are talking, and how to be active listeners.

Here is the link to an article from O magazine on how to avoid the silent dinner table http://www.oprah.com/relationships/Three-Ways-to-Avoid-the-Silent-Dinner-Table-by-Laurie-David
FAMILY IS IMPORTANT–as your children become older, friends become the focal point of their life. However, if you make it a staple that dinner time is important in your household, they will realize that family is important as well. They won’t choose their friends over a Sunday dinner, not because you forced them, but because its an important ritual to them too. This grows your bond as a family, which in turn will make your children more open to talking to you about tough situations in their life.

My call to action for you: instead of running through the drive through, instead of everyone fending for themselves, instead of sitting in the living room while Monday Night Football is on, unplug everything! No tv, no phones, no electronics….just you, your family, and good conversation over a healthy meal.

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One Comment to “Tales From the Dinner Table”

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