I recently called my aunt's house, and my cousin Emily answered. She said "Hi Claire, we are about to site down to dinner, can I take a message." And that was it; she had plans to spend time with her parents.
Emily is in her last year of college, and doesn’t make it up to her parents' house very often with school and work. When she is here, she has lots of friends to see. But she always makes time for the family dinner.
I know what you are saying. I am her cousin, not her friend, so why would she end a call with a friend for dinner. But this is not the first time I have seen it. I have been over to visit her parents, with both Emily and her brother away doing stuff with friends. It comes time to eat the meal, and all of a sudden, there they are, ready to eat with the family. Emily will tell her parents what a wonderful time she had with her friends that day, literally getting home just in time for dinner.
When you look at Emily's family, it is the kind you would hope to have. The children are independent; Emily spent a quarter in Italy studying abroad. But the children have strong connections with their parents and with each other. They come home as often as they can and enjoy spending time as a family.
The family meal, while not the only aspect of this relationship, is a strong component of it. It is the time set aside each day to connect with other family members, learn what is going on in their lives, and share what is going on in your life. It is a tool you can use to help achieve this kind of relationship with your child. All you have to do is eat together, with no distractions. This means turn the tv off, put away the phones, and spend time giving your children attention at the family meal.
When is the last time you had a family meal, and when do you plan on having one again? Having the family meal every day is a great way to connect with your family. If you don’t already, start this today, and one day, your child may say the same thing as Emily does "I have to go, dinner is just about ready."