I think we would all agree that family dinners are important and wonderful. But are they possible? In some cases reality comes up against the dream and we are stymied. I have a question that came to me from one of our readers.
My wife and I both work outside the home. I pick up my 2 year-old son and 8 year-old daughter on my way home from work. My wife works later and gets home between 6:15 and 6:45. I believe that family meals are important but the children simply can’t last until their mother gets home.
Hungry, tired and cranky children at the dinner table isn’t a positive family experience for anyone. You’re right, family time is important but it doesn’t necessarily have to happen around the dinner table.
There are a number of options open to you. One family I know with the identical problem instituted “tea time” soon after the kids got home. This was a substantial meal for the children and they joined their parents at the dinner table for what amounted to a bedtime snack. To save on extra cooking, you could give them the meal from the previous evening so they’re getting a nutritious meal, just one day later than you.
Family dinners can be saved for weekends and holidays when all can enjoy them.
Some families have made breakfast a regular family meal and this works for them.
The trick is to stay focused on your goals (i.e. positive family time, modeling table manners and the social aspects of mealtimes) and respect the developmental needs of your children. When you do that, coming up with a plan that works for you becomes easy.
Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments.
I have always known that each child is a unique individual. I looked at my two who are as different as night and day. Then I consider my siblings and we are a texbook example of different.
But, now I have three grandchildren, all the same age and the differences from their births has been striking. Just before they were born I was thinking about the two movies about Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and this also caused me to think about the differences of people who live together.
The result is the e-parenting mini guide, Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments.
Parenting Today is keen to speak as part of your professional development event, parenting workshop or workplace wellness support program. I offer keynotes and workshops, have written books and have ongoing newspaper columns, books, blogs and newsletters.
And, no matter what the actual topic, they all share a basic value that I call:
P — is a parenting plan
U — is unconditional love
R — is respect for your child as he is right now
E — is encouragement
These make up the framework of any resources that will come from Parenting Today. These four pillars are the essential ingredients for raising healthy children who will develop into capable young men and women.