How to Use This Remarkably Influential Parenting Tool
The table is a powerful place where some of our most influential parenting can occur.
What table am I talking about? Well, for us it is the supper table or some of you may call it the dinner table, even though for me growing up dinner was Sunday lunch, but I digress.
But, from my observation, the supper table is a foreign concept, and therefore Supper Table Parenting doesn’t occur. Our lives are so busy that it is difficult to gather the whole family together to have a meal, let alone have enough time actually to have a discussion.
And even if we have the time to gather everyone, we might not have the energy to gather the whole family, eat a meal, and have a discussion around the table. It is just easier to grab food and eat while watching TV either together or in separate rooms.
About 3 years ago, my wife and I realized that we hadn’t been prioritizing the supper table as we should and have made a concerted effort since then to make space 4-5 nights a week to have supper together.
The supper table is a space where the family can be together, slow down, eat food together, tell stories, tell jokes, and have discussions that normally wouldn’t happen. It allows for parenting moments that otherwise would be lost forever. We have been able to have discussions about what our family believes, questions that we have, porn, issues going on in the world, and much more. And I am convinced that a lot of these discussions would not have happened without the supper table.
3 Tips to Supper Table Parenting
• Pick a night, or two, or three to intentionally have supper together as a family. If you don’t normally have supper together start small and pick 1-2 nights a week.
• Schedule those nights and give your family time to have discussions. Block out 45 minutes to an hour, this will allow time for discussions to happen. I know for me, it also forces me to slow down how quickly I eat. I have the super- power to eat a meal in 10 minutes or less. I am not sure if I am embarrassed or proud of this super-power.
• Gather some questions to talk about. There’s nothing worse and more frustrating as a parent than to ask how your kids’ day was and for them to say “fine”. Ugh, that makes me so mad. What I have found is to have some questions ready. Or even to ask more specific questions about their day. Our family normally starts with Happies & Crappies, this is where we ask about one good thing that happened and one not so good thing happened. This has allowed for some really awesome discussions to occur.
Patience is a Virtue…I Guess
Now I have to caution you, things won’t change overnight.
It might take time for some good supper table discussions to occur, especially if your family hasn’t done this before.
So be patient.
And this is coming from the king of impatience. I am the guy who decides that he wants to lose weight and eats a salad and one meal, hops on the scale, and wonders why I haven’t lost any weight yet.
There Will Be Road Bumps
And things won’t go perfect. Or things will be going well for a while and then life will get back in the way.
And that’s okay.
As I write this, I am convicted that supper table discussions haven’t happened much at our supper table. Work has been extremely overwhelming, and I have had some long days and I have come home tired and have not had much energy to have supper table discussions.
But wanna know what? Tonight, is a new night and tomorrow is always a chance to start again.
The supper table invites us to gather, discuss, laugh, grow, be nourished, and much more. The question is, will we take the steps necessary to gather at the supper table?
Director of Student Ministries