Family schedules have taken on a mind of their own.  Now that parents work later and children are involved in multiple sports and activities family time often gets relegated to a few minutes at bedtime.  Now I agree that quality time is important but I have found that there is a special time that even grumpy teens can appreciate their parents’ company.  During this time, you can start family traditions and have real conversations about life and day-to-day activities.  In fact, it can be a time of laughter and joy each and every day.  


“What magical time is this?” you are wondering.  It is family dinnertime.  In our house we have dinner together as family at least 5 nights a week (sometimes more often).  We make sure to start each dinner by sharing our blessing that day.  This small positive piece of news sets the tone for the rest of the conversation. Blessings can often be small events such as, “I had a fun time playing friends” or “I got a lot of work done today” or “Soccer practice went really smoothly”.   It also helps us look back on our day with a positive mindset.  It will often lead to further conversation and sharing as the meal progresses. 


In addition, as parents we have vowed to keep the mealtime as a “no judgment” zone which helps spur conversation and nurtures relationships.  Dinner is not the time to issue directions or correction but rather a time to reconnect from the busyness of life.  If we want our children to feel comfortable in sharing their lives we must allow there to be a safe place for them to do so.  This doesn’t mean that dinner becomes a game of 20 questions but rather a time that everyone chooses to share what is on their heart or mind.  


Rather than eating alone or fighting over “one more bite” we have found a few moments of peace within a busy day.  Our teens now expect that at 6 pm we will gather together to share much more than a meal; we will share the best part of ourselves.  That is truly what family is all about.  


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