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How to Have a Positive Family Dinner

Laura Kuehn, LCSW
Written by Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Family dinners are an important time of the day. If you can get everyone to the table at the same time, try this simple technique that will make everyone happy to be there.

There is nothing worse for a child than to hear the dreaded, “wait until your father gets home!” threat from their mom. The movie A Christmas Story depicts it well. In the movie, Ralphy lies tearfully in his bed awaiting the dreaded arrival of his father. He hears the car roll up and knows his doom is sure. While you may not use this exact phrase and your children may not have thoughts of death as they wait for their father, there is a newer, more modern version that may evoke similar but more latent fears.

Moms, when your husband comes home from work, do you fill his ears with a long list of all the “crimes” that were committed throughout the day? Do you provide him with a report that mimics all the shock and awe of the evening news? “Jimmy hit Jack three times today!” “Sally refused to brush her teeth again!” “They were arguing all day long!” If your husband in turn acts like he doesn’t want to come home, can you really blame him? Today lets focus on making your daily report different than the 6:00 pm news. Lets try to make the arrival of Daddy one that is sought, not dreaded.

Throughout the day, make mental notes of the things that went well. There will be things that go well. Even on the worst days they are there – you just may have to do some digging to uncover them. Keeping your attention focused on the positive has benefits for everyone in the family, not just for reports to Dad. (To learn more about focusing on the positive, you can read a previous blog entitled: Energizing Success.)

When you sit down to dinner, try to weave your positive observations into the conversation. You can say things like, “John came in and started his homework without me even having to ask him today!” or “I saw Sarah let Sally go first down the slide today.” These kinds of comments that are about your children but directed at their father will give your children a great internal sense of accomplishment. You often hear it said that parents need to encourage rather than praise their children. This is an example of doing just that. You are simply noticing behavior that you would like to see more of. Make sure that the observations are accurate and sincere. Your children will know if it is just a gimmick.

Give this a try and you will likely see your children beam from ear to ear. You will also be creating a positive and inter-connected dinnertime atmosphere. It is these kinds of daily familial experiences that can help weave together the lives of the individual family members into one beautiful masterpiece.

. Please note: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional counseling. Read our full disclaimer here.

About Laura

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura is a licensed clinical social worker with a specialization in children and families. CfP is the place she combines some of her very favorite things: writing, parenting and God's word. She loves encouraging parents to build their families upon Jesus, the one true Cornerstone. She is happily married to a wonderfully supportive husband and is the mother of two delightfully inspiring children.

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