It is probably time for me to remind you about the importance of family dinners. Over and over again, you read in different blogs that this is a significant and memorable experience for families. I know we have lots of evening activities that can make it difficult for everyone to sit down at the same time, but maybe you can begin by selecting just a couple of nights of family dinners to start with.
If you begin family dinners while your kids are still young, they will become a normal part of your family life. You can play fun games that help kids tell you about their day and establish a “safe place” to share their heart. We used the conversation game that asked two questions:
- What was the best part of your day?
- What was the most unpleasant part of your day?
Don’t forget. The parents need to play too!
Find Ways to Keep the Tradition Going
When our kids became adolescents, playing games during dinner was no longer fun. They were mostly resistant to conversation and certainly talking games were never allowed. But adolescents do love to eat and I used that desire to my advantage. I would make their favorite food and lots of it. We also welcomed their friends and many accepted the invitation. We have some of our favorite memories from family dinners that included our kid’s friends. Now, our son is a father of three adolescent daughters and he has not only continued the family dinner tradition but he has taken it to a new level. He loves to cook and his daughter’s friends look forward to family dinners at the Mettens.
Certainly, not every family meal will be appreciated by your adolescent kids, but these family times can provide a consistent time of connection with each other that is important. I can hear it all now as they grumble and complain about the food and the expectation that they talk, but deep down these times will help them to feel more secure in the midst of the emotional and physical changes that are overtaking their life.
Our conversation game became a useful tool when our kids became young teens. When it looked like something was bothering one of them, I would find a quiet moment and ask them, “What was the best part of you day.” This became a signal between us that I was there to listen.