The family is under attack more today than ever before. It seems as if almost every aspect of the world is against it. Peer pressure, drugs, social media and the glorification of busyness are all some of the things fighting against families. Some of these things come knocking on our doors without any warning, warranting a way to creep into our homes.
How do we keep them out? There are many ways to barricade your home and family against these destroyers, but there is one that has proven to be especially influential: Every day, eat at least one meal together as a family.
You may think to yourself, "I'm sure my family is already doing this." And you may be right to some extent. But scarfing down a banana or granola bar over your sink while your kids are eating cereal with their earbuds in doesn't exactly constitute family meal time. Defining your family meal time is crucial to examining the quality of it. Experts suggest your family mealtime includes both parents being present. Family meals together not only strengthen your children, but your relationship as a couple as well. Get rid of any outside distractions. Turn the TV off, don't answer the door and put your phones away! Enjoy quality time with your family.
It doesn't matter if your meal is magazine worthy, or whether you ate a hot pot roast or cold pizza. What matters is that each family member is around that dinner table — together.
You may think to yourself, "Impossible! No one in my family is home at the same time." I know that every situation cannot be ideal. But you can do your best. And when you've done that, try just a little harder. When I was growing up, my dad had two jobs, and there were seven kids (many of them teenagers with various activities) running around in a million different directions. But dinner time was a priority for my parents, and you can make it a priority for you. Don't schedule meals around your activities, jobs or lessons. Schedule them around your meal time. Make it work!
Family dinners influence children more positively than extracurricular activities are shown to have! Family advocate Dallin H. Oaks said, "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 children really want for dinner is you."
Evidence suggests that children who take part in regular family meals are less likely to have depression. They tend to eat healthier foods and avoid eating disorders. They have less delinquency, greater academic achievement, improved psychological well-being and overall positive family interactions.
How do you make the most of that time with your family? The dinner table is the perfect time and place to ask your children questions like, "What is something new that you learned today?" or "How did you help someone today?" Often times our table is full of humor, education, fun, stories and more. But even when mealtimes seem rushed, chaotic or disorganized, realize the simple act of having regular mealtimes is giving your children stability.