Family Meals

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According to the mountains of research, children who enjoy regular meals with their family do better in school, exhibit fewer anti-social tendencies, and are more successful with their peers. They are far more likely to graduate high school and far less likely to take up smoking, use alcohol or drugs, or experiment with sex. The list of benefits goes on and on.

 

And it is no surprise. We bring all our hungers to the table, physical, emotional, social, and spiritual, and all of them can be fed.

 

Family mealtime prepares us to be really present to one another so we can better appreciate the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It can be a school where we learn to pray about what really matters to us, day by day, and the place where we practice forgiveness, both giving and receiving. It is the place to bring our needs and know they will be met. In effect, it becomes a great place to prepare our minds and hearts to move from the family table to the table of the Lord in our parish.

 

Making time for shared Family Meals

Finding time to eat dinner together can be tricky, but you do not need to eat together every single day of the week to reap the benefits of family meals, nor is there anything particularly magic about dinnertime. Breakfast, lunch, or a family “snack time” all work the same in building up healthy kids and strong families. The point is to eat together as often as you can, especially on Sundays.

 

Suggestions for Family Meals

  1. Begin with prayer!

  2. Practice thirty seconds of silence before your prayer. If nothing else, it works great to transition kids from pre-meal chaos and distractions to a more focused, quiet space.

  3. You do not have to necessarily make dinner your big, shared family meal. Everyone is tired and worn out by the end of the day. Asking everyone to be cheerful and on their best behavior at the end of the day might not be the right way to go, at least not while the kids are small.

  4. Eat in separate shifts, then come together for dessert. For example, Mom and Dad might share the salad course together, along with a glass of wine (assuming the kids are old enough to be independent); then mom and dad might eat the main course with the older kids while the littles finish their screen time; then mom and dad might eat with the littles, with everyone coming together for dessert.

  5. Put away the screens. That includes televisions as well as phones.

  6. Keep meals short for littles.

  7. Do not make manners dominate the meal. Yes, manners are important, but work on one at a time so you can put most of your energy into connecting.

  8. Extend the family togetherness to meal prep and cleanup. Many teens and ‘tweens actually enjoy cooking; with some guidance from Mom and Dad, they might be able to lead meal prep. Younger kids often view food preparation as an “adult” responsibility and a badge of honor.

  9. Play meal table games, and have structured discussions using one-line discussion starters.

  10. Pray at the end of the meal!

 

This week pick one day that you will share a family meal together!

 

Resources from: Teaching Catholic Kids; Loyola Press