When I was growing up, my parents always made it a point to sit down and eat dinner as a family. Although like most siblings, my sister and I would often end up arguing or bothering each other, it was our family time to catch up and talk at the end of the day. If I had a good day, it was my chance to share my happiness with my family. If my day wasn’t so good, it was my chance to unburden myself at the end of a long day. Sometimes I did not talk, but instead listened. I listened to my sister talk about her plans for the weekend with her friends, or about the teacher who she was sure hated her. I heard about my father’s day at work or about something interesting my mom had heard from her friends. Sometimes, on occasion, I even heard stories from my parents about their childhood.
Flash forward many years later, I have two children, a great wife, and a wonderfully hectic life. Between work and extracurricular activities, we seem to always be on the go. However, despite the occasional craziness, we try to maintain one constant–the family dinner. Of course, due to busy schedules, it isn’t always possible for all of us to eat together. So, we’ve created another family tradition, sharing time before bed. We spend a few minutes before bed talking about what made us happy during our day and what made us feel not so happy. And if there’s time, my wife and I take a few minutes to tell family stories, either about our children when they were smaller, or about our own childhoods.
I truly believe that it is important for families to consistently take the time to talk at the end of the day. Families may choose dinner or bedtime, or even some other time that works best for them, but regardless of what they do, the end results is the same–bringing the family closer and bringing security to our children. In fact, studies have suggested that teens that engage in family dinners more than 5 times a week were less likely to engage in smoking, drinking or using drugs, and in fact, performed better in school.
Now being a parent, I completely understand why my parents made this a routine. Times are different now, compared to then, but the need to connect as a family still remains. I’d be interested to hear what “family-time routines” you’ve started – please leave me a comment on Facebook.