The Blessing of Family Dinner & {Family Conversation Jar}

photo family dinner

Do you remember family dinners?

I do.  From toddler-hood, my siblings and I {all 5 of us} were expected to sit through family meals.  But in particular, evening dinners were non-negotiable in participation.  Dinner-time was sit-down.  But mostly, dinner-time was focused time to bond as a family.

Our meals were never extravagant.  My Mom still jokes about stretching a pound of ground beef between all 7 of us, to keep finances in order.  But the conversation during meal times, was rich beyond words.  And to this day, I credit talking though dinner one of the key formative experiences of my childhood.

Each night the pace varied.  Sometimes we would read a book together.  Often, we would share stories from our days.  One time, we were tasked with taking turns writing reports to present to the family, as my parents felt like the family was in a negative-chatter rut.

family bible

But always, my Dad opened the Bible and we read.  Sometimes just a few verses, but time in the Bible was stone-set.  And we followed reading with family prayer.

Every night without fail, my parents maintained this small but critical thread in our routine.  In fact, I can still recall my Mom sadly wondering about how to continue our tradition when we were teenagers with cars and jobs – it had become such a part of us.

When Pat and I married, we set out to fight for the value of family dinner.  Not for any heightened moral sense, but due to the healthy impact we knew it to be.  Though our routine is a tad different, nonetheless family dinner and worship is our daily groove now, too.  The kids are old enough to participate, and so sometimes, we let them lead.  Other times we rotate turns praying.  But always, we read a portion of the Bible aloud to them.

These evening times together are often the spaces where vulnerability and need is revealed.  These collections of time are where we get to know our kids better and deeper.  And we all go to bed a little stronger, because of the mutual bond of sharing and knowing we are supported.

My friend Christina, has designed a wonderful printable I want to share with you today, in the hope that it might assist any of you who are desiring to create a more intimate setting for family dinners.  Christina has designed a PDF called The Family Conversation Jar.  The Family Conversation Jar is a collection of questions that can be used at meal times, to encourage conversation in a family.

 

Conversation-791x1024

This list is a prompt, meant to initiate healthy talking, and perhaps create a new way of experiencing dinner together.  I have printed this list off, and hope to utilize it this Summer.   I find that many nights we talk about and pray about the same items – which is certainly not a bad thing- but I do want the kids to think beyond the “same old”, too.

If you find that your dinner-time or family-time is lagging, consider printing off Christina’s PDF.  You can do so by clicking here.

30 crockpot meals

And as a little extra boost, above you click here to find a link to 30 easy crock-pot meals.  So often, lack of time is what eats away at our family growth.  But time is gained in such simple ways.  And the crock-pot has got to be one of the best means of simplification that God has given us :).

Consider developing a plan for family dinners as a powerful piece of your defense plan for your children.  A study performed recently compared 2 groups of teenagers: those who ate family dinners two or less times per week, and those who ate family dinners five or more times per week.  And here is what it found:

Teenagers who ate family dinner two or less times per week were:

  • Three times more likely to try marijuana.
  • Two-and-a-half times more likely to smoke cigarettes.
  • One-and-a-half times more likely to drink alcohol.

In addition, the study revealed that more frequent family dinners produced children who experienced:

  • Lower levels of family tension.
  • Teenagers who more often said that their parents are proud of them.
  • Teenagers who more often said that they can confide in their parents about a serious problem.

I am so grateful for the effort my parents poured into defending our dinner table.  Because in essence, they were defending us.  Our characters.  Our futures.  And though at the time, we wriggled and balked sometimes against what felt like a strict boundary, I can see now that family dinners saved us from a great deal.

family dinner 2

One last link above, meant to simplify dinner plans.

Now go turn the crock-pot on!

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7 thoughts on “The Blessing of Family Dinner & {Family Conversation Jar}

  1. Another great idea I have come across is in “A young Woman’s Walk with God,” Elizabeth George tells of how her family had a box in the middle of the table. In that box were cards that each had one promise of the bible written on them. Every morning they would each select a promise and at the end of the day at dinner, they would discuss how God had been true to his word since breakfast. I thought that was such a great idea and definitely want to implement when the girls are old enough to understand.

    I agree that dad reading the bible was one of the best things they did. My childhood memories are full of dinner times with all of us gathered around. So cozy and so foundational spiritually (although I didn’t realize it at the time).

  2. My parents laid such a strong foundation with us as well, with family dinner, then at night, Bible reading, praying, and discussing. As Matt and I are having an insane summer, schedule-wise, we are working to fit it in whenever we can, knowing it will pay off, even when it’s at random times throughout the day, as long as it’s THERE. At least for this season.

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