As children are growing up, parents can take advantage of the evening meal as a time for family fellowship. The goal is simple. Have dinner together as a family at least once a week. Many of you are already doing this and more, but it’s a good reminder nevertheless as to the importance of what you are doing.
In the Bible, dining together was a big deal. Eating together meant fellowshipping with one another. You didn’t do it lightly or without purpose.
I believe that part of the reason that the Lord put dietary restrictions on the people of Israel was to keep them from fellowshipping at the same table with those who did not know God. The Lord knew how important the mealtime was in influencing relationships between people.
Here are three simple guidelines for the mealtime.
Guideline #1: Eliminate distractions.
Turn off the television, don’t answer the telephone and don’t bring reading materials to the dinner table.
I remember purchasing our first answer machine. One of the main reasons for its presence in our home was that we could eat dinner together without being interrupted by answering the telephone while still considering phone calls from others as being important.
Guideline #2: Everyone converses.
The goal of the evening meal is to have everyone share in the conversations. Try avoiding one word answers whenever possible.
This may mean that dad and mom need to think of some questions or subjects that would stimulate discussion, like… What did you think of Pastor Cory’s sermon this past Sunday?
It could be a time to ask about school or friends.
Guideline #3: Everyone remains.
The whole family should stay at the table until all have finished their meal and conversations (unless you have a grazer in your family).
We tried to have the kids stay at the table a reasonable amount of time. Since they knew that they couldn’t leave early, they took their time eating and participated in the conversation. Of course, they loved doing both so it wasn’t that hard (having all girls probably made it easier).
As the children grow older, it will be more difficult to have family dinners together. They may be involved in sports or other extra-curricular activities that intrude on the family mealtime. So take advantage of this while you can.
The guidelines aren’t meant to make the mealtime an exercise in legalism. They are meant to set some helpful parameters around the dinner table for the benefit of the family.
Something to think about …