My husband is at Focus on the Family today, where he will be taping a radio interview on his book, No More Jellyfish, Chickens, or Wimps, which will air around the world on August 14th! Bullying is so prevalent today – I think you’ll really be encouraged by Paul’s insight and research as he talks about The Protectors, a faith-based curriculum that he wrote to help families, schools and churches.
In another book that Paul has read, A Nation of Wimps, author Hara Estroff Marano writes about the dinner table in one of the chapters, which I find powerful and necessary to share. It reminds me at times of the Coughlin home, and how we’ve incorporated conversation into dinnertime from early on. We’ve always asked our kids and their friends to individually talk and share about their day, or to answer a question we'll ask them. And then we listen!
Here’s what Marano writes:
Eat dinner together at least five nights a week. From the earliest age. All around the same table. All eating the same meal. Nothing else on the table but conversation in which every family member gets to participate.
Even if young children have to be fed earlier by a caretaker, pull the high chair up to the table when you all sit down, so everyone comes to expect this time together. If you are not used to doing this, create some structure. Let each child have a chance to be in charge of the conversation for an evening. This is how love is communicated. This is where curiosity and intellect are nurtured. This is how the desire to be an effective adult is sustained. Miss Manners said is best: the dinner table is the boot camp of civilization.
But it does much more than all that. In a major longitudinal study of children growing up in suburban outposts of affluence and in inner cities, the factor that most correlates with achievement is kids having dinner with parents five or more times a week. Eating dinner with at least one parent on most nights predicted both adjustment and school performance – among both affluent and poor kids.
The simple little act of eating dinner together makes children feel valued, loved and secure. It bolsters their sense of self. It’s where they absorb values and information effortlessly, unaware, in the air they breathe. It’s where they learn how to communicate effectively. In short, it’s how kids become smart.
I love that – it’s how kids become smart!
What ways have your pulled your family together around the dinner table? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
(NEXT POST - Canning Cherries! I just bought 2 boxes of beautiful Bing cherries – ripe and ready for eating & canning! YUM!)