Family Meals = Priceless Family Moments

by Heather Durenberger, Tastemaker in Residence

Our family has made family meals a priority.  We have committed to and make choices around being able to share at least one meal a day together. Now this means sometimes having breakfast, eating at 4:30 in the afternoon or grabbing seats in the baseball stands and sharing hot dogs but we find a way. For our family the returns have been priceless.  

We have standard questions we ask each child and what we learn helps us be better parents. Our questions include: What was the best part of your day? What happened on the playground and on the bus? What is something you could have done better? What is something that you learned today? I’ll tell you all the good stuff comes from the playground and school bus question. So many teachable moments as well as being close to the pulse of your children's day.  Being able to nip something in the bud, being able to communicate with teachers, coaches or others in child's life before thing escalate and most importantly being able to coach your child so they can advocate for themselves has been the most powerful outcome of our daily meals.

So is it easy, good grief no. Do we have to sacrifice some things - you bet.  But is it worth it. Every Sunday evening, I sit with my husband and we go through the week to schedule our family meals. We look at the calendar and then we set meals times. Does it always work - no. But we do our best and we are flexible.

What tells me it's so valuable is this - when our children's friends join us for a meal, I love to watch their expressions. From saying a prayer with the meal, to the inclusive and interactive conversation, to everyone being heard. For those that are shy, the other children encourage them to speak up and share. Even my four year old niece was sitting taller, speaking louder and actively contributing after her first meal with my crew. Watching a child know that they matter is like watching a flower bloom. Something magical happens - they come to life. Watching siblings offer support and counsel to each other is a life skill that shouldn't be missed. This is the stuff that will help them throughout their life.
So I encourage you to make family meal time a priority in your house.  Be flexible, be creative, ask your kids how to make it work. You and your family will be glad you did.