The most important conversations usually happen at the dinner table. Getting together with those that you love and sharing a meal, nearly every night, is as important as getting dressed in the morning.
Talks with those in our community about dinnertime etiquette revealed a few tips on how to reinforce this longtime cultural practice, which we share here.
- Have “Family Dinner” at every opportunity. If you’re new to this, start with 3-4 nights a week. Ideally, it is best to dine together every 5-6 nights
- Make time for dinner. Encourage your family members to say, “No, I can’t” to other invitations and practice saying, “we are having a Family Dinner tonight.”
- Make an effort for family dinner to be a great dining experience in a beautiful and inviting environment
- Eating your meal together, in the dining room, will create a calm, civilized atmosphere
- Prepare a nutritious dinner. Use real plates vs. paper cups and plastic utensils
- Establish a few ground rules. Most important is that TV and cell phones should be shut off, and controversial conversations should be avoided
- Practice good table manners at all times. The most important include:
- Knife edge always face inward
- Teach children how to set a table
- Hold both your fork and knife
- Remember the Silent Service Code when you are partially done, and then again when finished with your meal
- At home, clean up after yourself. Teach your children to do the same
- Children need to learn how to set the table, prepare dinner and help clean up
- When dinner is over, encourage group cleanup followed by hot tea or a little dessert
- Encourage family discussions. Share with each other about interests, academics, books, politics, jobs/careers, goals, friends. Encourage going around the table and making sure each person gets a chance to speak. If a guest joins for dinner on occasion, include that person(s) in your discussions. When eating out for dinner as a family, try to maintain most of the routines you’ve built.
- Acknowledge individual achievement. Celebrate birthdays, awards, and milestones!
An important aspect to eating at home includes dressing nicely for dinner, most of the time. This doesn’t mean formal wear, but it does mean you should look clean and presentable at the table. Encourage your children to do the same.
These traditions may sound simple and obvious, but the routine created helps to deepen relationships, reduce anxieties, and create overall benefits in your life.
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