Family Dinner

Jan 22, 2014 by



Disclaimer: I’m going to be getting on a soapbox today. If you care about your children, keep reading.

Recently, a Kentucky Fried Chicken ad has been running on TV that has me furious. Here’s the scenario.  Mom and Dad are sitting on the couch singing the joy of finally finding a way to get their kids out of their bedrooms to have a family dinner together. (Eating KFC of course.) Meanwhile, their children are sitting by them – their son listening to music on an mp3 player and their daughter on her phone.

Now, to give the producers the benefit of the doubt, the whole picture is probably done tongue in cheek. They have the kids out of their rooms and sitting with them even though the kids almost have no idea mom and dad are in the room. But mom and dad are still ecstatic. I get that. But I still think there is a false message being sent here.

Parents have no authority over their teenagers.

When did the memo go out informing parents that they no longer have any control over what their teenager does? Why isn’t this family sitting at a table for dinner facing each other? Why aren’t the electronics put away for dinnertime? When did teenagers start determining how the home is run?

I have many parents tell me that the teenage years scare them to death. That makes me very sad because we believe those are some of the most exciting years in a parent’s life. Yes, you have some growing pains to deal with, but you also have emerging adults to help guide through the process. Your children are coming into their own as teenagers and need your help now more than ever to navigate the ups and downs, decisions and frustrations. But to do so, you must keep communication lines open between you and your teenagers.

One of the best places for that is the family dinner table. Where else do you have your dinner-tablechildren captive for 15-20 minutes without tying them up? But to make this work, you first have to establish some ground rules.

  1. The family will have dinner together. (With extra-curricular activities and the parent’s evening meetings, this will take some coordinating and sacrifice. So understandably, this may not happen every night. But you can try for 4 out of 7.)
  2. No electronics of any kind will be allowed at the dinner table. Period.

That’s all the steps. It’s not complicated. Being part of a family is a privilege. And to work as a family, you need to communicate. What better place for conversation than around food?

Need conversation ideas?

  • Each of you shares your day. Maybe list a high and a low from the day.
  • Tend to “family business” while you are together.
  • Maybe have a jar of topics on slips of paper you have assembled and you could pull one out and discuss it.
  • Laugh together.
  • Plan a vacation or special day out together.
  • Plan a service project to do as a family. Give everyone a job to do in the preparation.
  • Plan to do a 5K race or other activity you can all participate in.
  • Bake dessert together.
  • Clean up afterwards together.
  • Then maybe you can keep the together time going by playing a game, going to get ice cream, or watching a movie as a family.

Traditionally, the dinner table has been a place for the family to connect. When our children become teenagers and start stretching their wings, we need to take advantage of every opportunity we can to stay connected with them. But we need to have a plan and enforce it. Your teenagers may think they are grown up and have it all together. They may even be pushing you away. But they still need you and the wisdom you have to share. You just need to find your effective way to communicate with them in this new stage of life.

Don’t waste this time. Cherish it. Soon they will be leaving your home and having to stand on their own two feet. They need you now to help prepare them for that day.



Related Posts


Share This

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterCheck Our Feed