Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Making Family Dinner Fun

I'm pretty sure that my next statement doesn't apply to any other young families out there, but just bear with me. Ready? OK. Dinner at our house isn't always an oasis of peace, quiet, and pleasant conversation. Often it is punctuated by quarreling over who gets to share what details of the day with Dad, lacking manners, and toddler tantrums over what is or isn't on someone's plate. This never happens at your house, right?

We believe strongly in gathering our family together for dinner each night. There are lots of articles, research, and stats out there proving the importance of a pleasant family dinner each night. I reflect on this statement often:

"...the time a family spends together "eating meals at home [is] the strongest predictor of children's academic achievement and psychological adjustment." Family mealtimes have also been shown to be a strong bulwark against children's smoking, drinking, or using drugs. There is inspired wisdom in this advice to parents: what your children really want for dinner is you." --Dallin H. Oaks
So when family dinner becomes a battleground over behavior problems, I start to fret about how to make things better. We've tried a few things. I encourage the kids to tell Cameron about their day...but as mentioned earlier, sometimes this doesn't end peacefully. We've also tried asking each person to share something they are grateful for that day. Some days and some answers are better than others. And then I made a little jar of family dinner conversation starters.
I pulled ideas for this from a lot of different web sites and blogs out there. And I made up a lot of them myself. Some are funny and meant to be light hearted. Some are meant to be serious.

I have to say that pulling out this jar completely changes the dynamic of family dinner at our house. Everyone loves to participate in answering questions. And we get to know each other better as we discuss ideas.

I hope that in a couple decades my kids will still think fondly on some of our recipes. But if we can build beautiful memories laughing and talking together, my real goals will be accomplished.

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