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Making the Most of Family Meal Times

Thanksgiving is coming up, and it gives us a chance to reflect on the value of family meals, why they are so special, and how we can intentionally use this time together.

Our kids will grow and move away, and this is the time we have to help shape them into adults that will influence the world. Meal times are a chance to talk and connect, and we need to be intentional about how we spend those precious moments before they’re gone.

Here are ways you can make the most of family meal times.

Quality Questions

Connection does not just happen because you are sitting close together; it comes from sharing meaningful experiences. Most parents ask simple questions, like “How was your day?” or “How are you?” These are simple questions that yield simple answers: “Good.” “Fine.” If you want to learn about their day and have them share their experiences and feelings with you, then you need to ask higher quality questions that give you deeper answers.

Try asking questions that require a story to answer, like “What was the funniest thing that happened at school today?” or “What was the hardest part of your day?”

Quality questions give you quality answers, which gives you quality time.

Gives Us Opportunities to Help Our Kids Grow

By asking quality questions, we gain a secondary benefit that makes a world of difference: your children are developing their social and emotional skills.

Through quality questions, your children learn communication skills, such as how to actively listen by looking at the person talking and waiting for their turn to speak, which is part of behaving respectfully.

We also get to learn about what’s going on in our children’s lives and have time to talk through any issues you or your kids are experiencing. This gives us an opportunity to talk about their feelings (and ours!) and how to make good choices around those feelings; like how to solve a conflict with someone at school or how to have a positive mindset if they are nervous about giving a presentation.

And Build Family Traditions

Decide how to start the family meal. Some families pray. Our family takes turns sharing what we are grateful for. Maybe for your family, it can be a moment of silent contemplation or an uplifting quote shared aloud, whatever aligns with your family’s values. By creating a ritual before sharing a meal together, we transform an ordinary meal into a cherished family tradition. Traditions are the backbone of family life, providing stability and a sense of belonging.

Mealtime doesn’t have to be messy chaos that seems insufferable. By setting clear expectations, you can transform dinner into a sacred gathering for your family. Mealtime can and should be a sacred, undisturbed opportunity for family bonding. Setting clear expectations is the key to transforming dinner from a free-for-all into a meaningful gathering.

Decide what time works best for everyone to have dinner. That dinner time is a time for everyone to come together, to remain seated and engaged until we are all finished. Reinforce the idea that this is family time, where screens and digital distractions are not welcome at the table. By resisting the pull to check the latest video or message, you foster a sense of presence that’s all too rare in today’s world.

It’s not just about being physically together; it’s about cultivating an environment where everyone feels seen and heard. A space where family truly matters.

Dinner Time Checklist:

  • When: Decide on a consistent dinner time that works for your family. Not feasible to have it every day? That’s okay. Pick 2 or 3 times a week!
  • Where: Establish that mealtime is at the table, together as a family.
  • What: Set the intention. This is a family meal where we sit and talk – no screens allowed.
  • Create a Dinner Ritual: Whether it’s prayer, sharing gratitudes, or a moment to acknowledge each other, choose what suits your family’s values.
  • Ask Quality Questions: Engage all family members with meaningful questions. Quality questions lead to quality time.

Thanksgiving does not have to be the only time we have a family meal and go around the table saying what we are grateful for. Let’s use this season as a way to build an even stronger family bond that creates meaningful memories and guides our children to an even brighter future.

If you need any support, Kong Academy is here to serve you to have the best family life of your dreams.

Please share this and any tips you have so we can all learn from each other.

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