Over the past couple of decades, more studies than you can count have been done to pinpoint the most crucial factors in raising emotionally strong, well-balanced kids. Almost all of them have arrived at the same conclusion: Eating together as a family is one of the most significant influences in raising healthy, well-balanced kids.
The more families eat together, the less likely children will engage in drug use, suffer from depression, develop an eating disorder, or succumb to a host of other behavioral problems.
The positives increase as well. Frequent family mealtimes improve a child’s school performance, communication skills, and overall happiness with life.
Despite the benefits, families often find it challenging to make time to eat together. Younger kids have practice, older kids have jobs after school, and parents keep busy trying to manage it all.
What’s a family to do when family meals fall by the wayside, especially when no one’s schedule is likely to lighten up anytime soon?
The starting place is to remember that family dinners aren’t really about food. They’re a time for socializing, sharing, celebrating, and encouraging one another. Quiet the buzzing smartphones and squawking televisions from the background, and the dinner table can be a great place to enhance the depth of your relationships.
Food-wise, focus on what your family can do, not what you can’t. If you can’t cook a full dinner with all the trimmings, make sandwiches. If dinner every night isn’t a realistic option, start with one night a week. And if evenings don’t work, try breakfast or lunchtime.
We have a lot more ideas for you on our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Enjoying Mealtime as a Family” with popular guest Ted Cunningham. He shares how he and his wife, Amy, have approached their family mealtimes. They have ideas ranging from honoring one another around the dinner table to playing board games. They even offer encouragement for single moms and single dads who are carrying the load of the family on their own shoulders.
Ted is the founding pastor of Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Missouri. He and Amy have written a book titled Come to the Family Table: Slowing Down to Enjoy Food, Each Other, and Jesus.
For our end-of-year campaign here at Focus on the Family, generous friends are matching every donation you make to this ministry. Which means your gift will go twice as far toward rescuing hurting marriages, equipping parents, and giving families hope. For a gift of any amount, I’ll send you a copy of Ted and Amy’s book. Visit our website for more information or call 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).