Gather the Family-It’s Dinner Time
How do we host family gatherings that our loved ones want to come back for?
My family gatherings were great fun! They usually included laughing, joking, loving and kidding with each other. We would give each other a hard time about one thing or another, or we would discuss a new product or idea, or just help someone with ideas they were working with. You came away from the table feeling like you were part of something and wanting more. I am very well aware that this scenario does not exist in every home at every family gathering. But for me these memories came well after the years of hearing “eat your veggies and get your elbows off the table”.
How do we host family meals that our loved ones want to come back to? Young kids sitting at the dinner table can bring back many bad memories for people. Every action was scrutinized. Every morsel watched until eaten. Why would any kid walk away from that grueling time of learning manners night after night to looking forward to another family gathering? It can happen. All it takes is a little work and a lot of love. Experiencing great family meals takes work on everyone’s part.
Today I hope to discuss four qualities that every gathering should include. This will help create and foster great family dinners for years to come! They are: Consistency, Listening, Training, and Encouragement
Consistency is one of key factors in having a successful family gathering. It does not matter what time or what kind of food you have for your meal. What matters is that you sit down and be together on a regular basis. I am aware that kids and adults have crazy schedules and everybody is going in six directions- but if you can establish a routine of sitting down together you will not believe the results. Not only will you know what’s going on with more of your family, but the skills you will be providing are priceless.
Training of children in manners and correct behavior use to happen at the family dinner table. Unfortunably this does not happen as much in today’s world. My feeling is that this is a very important part of a child’s education. Currently we are in the “trenches” of teaching our children how to set the table, how to do the dishes and how to eat correctly. Many times my husband and I look at each other and wonder will they ever get it? But then we realize that the consistent corrections are what will get through to them. Someone else will get the benefit of all our hard work. I wonder if you will get the chance to eat a meal with one of our daughters!
At big family gatherings such as Thanksgiving, my thoughts are that the bulk of the training should be put on hold. Let them have a chance to shine with what they know. Realistically they will be given gentle reminders but what fun for them to enjoy the meal and the conversation.
Listening to one another can be a very valuable skill. You also get to know your family member and what is happening in their lives. I am a firm believer that the family dinner table is a great training ground for more than just how to eat. It is here that we test our ideas. We practice our jokes to see if our friends will laugh or not. We as parents need to let this wonder happen. Let each of your family members have a chance to report on their day. Share with us what’s on their mind. Many times this is where our children share their progress in school or accomplishments on the playing field. By the way, Southworth has a wonderful line of Motivations Academic and Athletic certificate kits that are perfect for recognition of your deserving offspring. Don’t forget to celebrate who your family is, these are precious years.
Encouragement for our loved ones is also a part of the family dynamic. Would you want to come and sit down to a dinner where the only thing that happens is you get yelled at and belittled? No Way! Make sure we are building up and encouraging our family members. Create an atmosphere that encourages your loved ones to pursue their dreams and aspirations.
We each have a responsibility to make sure we join our family gatherings eager to share, bolster, love, and support.
Enjoy all your family gatherings this holiday season!