As I mentioned in my last post, my approach to mealtimes changed. One day I announced that we were going to start doing something FUN at supper time. I explained that I would ask 2-3 questions and everyone would answer, including me. Often I asked the same questions several nights in a row.
Tell us about something that made you laugh today.
Did anything happen to make you sad today?
Name someone who helped you today.
Tell us one thing you learned today.
You get the idea.
I’d interchange feelings like happy, jealous, mad…
The food on your plate had to be disappearing if you wanted to share! And, new table manners were introduced – like listening and being thoughtful…
At various points of sharing, I’d casually thank the Lord, point out how He had helped someone, or suggest we pray for someone’s feelings at the end. The key was keeping MY comments light and brief!
As the kids got older, I intentionally didn’t do this every night. When we did, I added questions with more depth like:
Name a time today that you believe God helped you.
What is challenging for you right now?
Share a time that you prayed today. Often one person’s answer would redirect our conversation for the rest of the meal. Flexibility is key!
I’ve learned so much about our children during meals. Somehow at mealtimes, children don’t feel like they’re “on”. I think it’s because we’re doing something while we talk. The beauty of the table setting is that we’re all still and looking at each other. We see the emotions – excitement, sadness, hope, struggle, anxiety – and we learn far more than our words say. Our kids see more, too. We see sides of each other that we haven’t noticed before.
We’re learning how to listen – respectfully, prayerfully, supportively.
Plenty of nights I was tired; two of the kids were mad at each other; one wouldn’t want to talk; or one was mad at me because we’d had a disagreement earlier. We have to persevere, with the child and in prayer. We’re building relationships with our primary small group.
“They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.” (Acts 2.2, The Message)