Faith Spilling Over… Into Everyday Life

The Most Important Thing for Family Togetherness


Most Important Family Togetherness

Around my house food is always on everyone’s mind. While both kids were at home, the most frequent question I heard was “What’s for dinner?” They asked this approximately 10 minutes after lunch. Every. Single. Day. Sometimes it drove me crazy because I didn’t have a plan.

But it was good to know the kids were looking forward to dinner.

Family dinner makes memories.

My children brought a joyful chaos into our home, but before I could catch my breath, my oldest left for college. Looking back over 18 years, I give thanks for two things. Reading God’s Word with our kids is the most important thing we did as parents. Eating dinner together comes in second place. Over meals, we talked about faith, the Bible, politics, gay marriage, cooking, and movies.
Most Important Family Togetherness Scripture

Nothing builds unity like gathering together around the table.

Family dinner guarantees that kids get time with their parents and improves family relationships. According to the Family Dinner Project, benefits to kids are greater than we think. Kids who dine with their parents 4 or 5 times a week have these advantages:

  • Higher self esteem
  • Better thinking and language skills
  • Better academic achievement
  • Lower risks of depression, teen pregnancy, and drug use

When my kids were little, family dinner was not always quality time. I’d jump up and down 15 times to wipe up spilled milk, pick up dropped forks, grab something from the kitchen, or clean faces and hands.

As the kids grew, meals became more enjoyable, but harder to schedule. When my husband and I had evening ministry commitments, we ate earlier. When my son got a job two evenings a week, we ate later. We’d start at 7:30, and he’d join us. If he came home really late, we’d usually sit at the table with him. The important thing was that no one ate alone.

With today’s busy schedules, family dinner may not look like it did on The Brady Bunch, but you can still make it work.

Here are 4 dinner time tips:

1. Get Real

If you’re struggling with consistency, don’t wait for perfect. Sometimes it helps to schedule dinner together 2 or 3 nights a week as a start. Or make an effort to eat with whoever’s at home. Reduce stress by keeping meals simple. If all else fails, your family can still eat together at McDonalds on the way to sports practice.

2. Get Kids Involved

Mom, don’t shoulder all the work alone. Kids can set the table, help with cleanup, or make a salad. If you’re brave and have nerves of steel, try a family cooking night once a week. Not so brave? Go for once or twice a month. You might discover some budding culinary talent.

3. Get Unplugged

Dinner is time to turn off the TV, put away the cell phones, and let your landline ring if someone calls. They’ll call back. Don’t let anything steal your precious time with your family.

4. Get to Talking

Ask everyone what the highlight of their day was. Did anyone have a lowlight? Did anyone see God at work in their day? What are your kids interested in? Ask them about it.

Family dinner guarantees that kids get time with their parents and improves family relationships. 4 tips to make it work.

You’ll never regret making family meal times a priority. When we get real, get the kids to help, get unplugged, and get to talking, we’re making memories with our families. What does dinner look like around your house? What tips do you have for making family dinner work?

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Author: betsydecruz

I want to enjoy the everyday life God is giving me as best I can, even when the road gets bumpy. I love having fun with my teenagers, learning almost anything, and drinking dark roast coffee with my friends.

37 thoughts on “The Most Important Thing for Family Togetherness

  1. Betsy, I just love all your practical tips. And it’s so true how the different stages and circumstances in our lives bring on new challenges. Even with our empty nest it’s hard sometimes to make our dinner table a place of gathering and unity. I find myself with the attitude that we don’t need to make a special effort since it’s just the two of us. But unity doesn’t just happen and sitting together at a table doesn’t mean we’re “gathered.” Thanks for the reminder to make our dinner table a place of abundant blessing in our home. Blessings, sweet friend.

    • I hear where you’re coming from, Sabra! I find myself with similar thoughts now that we’re just 3 at home, yet I’m really making an effort. I don’t want my daughter to think, “Our family time ended when Andres left.” I can only imagine what it’s like when your nest is empty! I hope you and David have blessed times at the family table this holiday season!

  2. Amen and amen.
    This has been one of our big goals as a family: to enjoy meals together. Now that I have boys who have flown the nest, I still look forward to the times when ALL of us are together again with grandboy in the high chair. So thankful that my daughter-in-law is gracious and loves her husband enough to live with Morin chaos as part of her life!

  3. Love this! What a great perspective on family dinner time. I loved that time we were sitting around the table when the kids were young. I remember the time well and even though chaos was present, a family hearing and listening was present too. I loved asking questions such as what was the best part of your day or tell me what you did in (insert subject) class today? I learned as a teacher not to just say “how was your day” because that was a sure way of shutting the down the conversation immediately. I now cherish the times that my sons come over or I have family in town so we can sit around the table. Great post today!

    • Isn’t that the truth? The question “How was your day?” brings the answer, “Fine” or “okay.” I’m so glad you had family dinner times you can still cherish today, Mary.

  4. Family dinner time at the table is one of my fondest memories of childhood 🙂 Except that one time I sat there half the night because I refused to ask to leave the table!! It’s still a fond memory though as it represents the importance of those cherished mealtimes. They represent family, respect, honor, love, community…and Lord willing, one day we will have our own family meal times with whatever children He grants us 🙂

    • That’s a funny story about sitting at the table half the night. It reminds me of the time I sat at the table all day because I refused to eat LIVER. My mom finally saw she couldn’t win that one! I’m glad you have happy memories of family dinner as a child, Sarah.

  5. This is so important, Betsy. Family mealtime (evening meal) has remained a constant in our home, at least in part bc even though our kids are teens, they are not (due to their special needs) involved in a lot of activities that take them away over suppertime. Jonathan usually insists that I’m the one to pray over our food, and the minute I begin, he starts inserting things that he wants me to mention: “Green beans. Allison meeting. Dad work. Saw garbage truck.” (My brother calls him my “prayer coach”). Mealtimes do have their stressful aspects but there are some good memories and bonds being made, too.

    • I’m glad you have such a great prayer coach, Jeannie. I can only imagine your mealtimes can sometimes be stressful, but how great that your kids don’t have lots of activities that take them away at suppertime. Makes evenings easier. Blessings to you as you continue making good memories together.

  6. Betsy, we agree with you about the value of family meals together. We try to eat together most nights. This fall was hard with one boy having football practice 3 nights a week, but even then, I was near him. We enjoy talking with our boys as they grow older. Hearing about their days, their high and low-lights. Thanks for your four tips, and your passion for building family relationships. 🙂

  7. We are just coming out of a busy season where between practices and other commitments it was work to all be in the same time at the same place, much less enjoy a meal together. Now that is over (hallelujah) and I’m so looking forward to sitting, relaxing, and reflecting over meals with my boys. I love that you encourage us to be real – because sometimes even a sandwich in the car on the way to practice counts! 😉

    • Oh, I’m glad for you that your busy season is over, Tiffany! That’s right, sometimes it’s a sandwich in the car. That’s what my daughter and I had last night. We went to volunteer for sick kids at a Ronald McDonald house, and that’s all we could do!

  8. Betsy, this is something we do almost every night and it makes such a difference. There are seasons when it becomes only a few nights a week, but I always look forward to those moments when we’re able to slow down and enjoy each other. Thank you for always keeping it real and helping us remember what’s important. 🙂

  9. Yep … devotions, family dinners, holiday traditions, summer vacations, commitment to the church, and gathering often with extended family … these I look back on and see how they were important building blocks in the life of our daughters.

    And lots of hugs. And I love yous.

    Thanks for your wise words, Betsy … you made me smile in remembrance!

  10. This is great, Betsy. Before high school, we ate dinner together almost every night. But with guard–rehearsals, performances, competitions–and other church activities, there is rarely a night that everyone is home. But your post has me looking at the calendar to see when we can grab these times together …

  11. Betsy, I love this post, you have some wholesome, down-to-earth ideas for helping us focus on each other more. What a blessing you are! Many blessings to you and your sweet family!

  12. Yes, maam ~ wholeheartedly agree. 🙂 We’ve had many a supper at 3:00 in the afternoon because someone had a meeting or a sport in the evening. Sometimes even lunch or breakfast around the table instead of supper if we couldn’t swing it any other way. Lately it’s been harder, and I sure miss it on the days that everyone’s schedule won’t cooperate. It’s a blessing to gather and share together though. Love this, Betsy. ((Hug))

  13. Betsy,

    Great tips…and it is better to start like you said than to wait for perfect as we all know it isn’t happening 😉

  14. Great tips – and a great encouragement to stick with it, even if in the early years the time doesn’t feel so productive. We do at least sit together for most meals, but we often don’t make the most of our time together. I hope we’re at least setting the habit of eating together – and as the kids grow we’ll grow the conversations.

    • It sounds to me like you’re off to a great start, Kathryn! Getting into the habit is so important. Makes it easier to want to work for it later when scheduling’s the thing! Blessings!

  15. Betsy,

    This is probably the post I needed to read. It has been so hard in the last 4 years to sit down at the dinner table. After Dan died, every night felt it does when your husband’s on a business trip and you get by with dinner in front of the tv. 😦 I so, so want good memories for my children and this is one area that I have to seriously dig down and just do. Thank you, friend, for the well-timed reminder.

    • i’m praying for you now, Lisa. Your kids can still have great memories! I can understand a bit where you’re coming from. I find it easier to let certain family traditions slide with just one child left at home, but I keep doing things for my daughter. I can imagine it must be so hard for you, with losing your HUSBAND. Grace and wisdom to you, my friend.

  16. Amen! Great tips–especially the unplugged one :). When have we convinced ourselves that someone can’t wait an hour?!

  17. Sage advice, sage advice. When we homeschooled it was so much easier to sit together at dinner. It’s more challenging now with sports practices at varying times. But alas, opportunity sneaks in as much as possible. I always enjoy reading your words, Betsy. It’s easy to gather from each key stroke. xo

    • I know what you mean about the sports practice. We had tae kwondo 3 times a week year round! For several years. And skating. Thanks for your encouragement, Kristi. May God’s grace surround you each day, friend.

  18. Betsy,
    While my kids were growing up, I fought for maintaining the family dinner at the table. I heard lots of whining at times about how other kids got to eat in front of the TV. So glad I stuck to my guns. My kids, now grown, fondly remember and recall all the times we spent around that table. Thanks for the concrete reasons why this is worth fighting for!

  19. You are so right that it doesn’t look like the Brady Bunch anymore. When my kids were growing up, we made the effort to eat dinner together, whether it was around the table, in the car, or sitting on a curb at some practice or another. The location and table setting didn’t matter…what did matter is that we were together. And that’s what they remember to this day. Great post, Betsy!

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