One of the things that my husband and I look forward to the most these days is having a family dinner with our children. Our children and my husband and I live in different states. When we can all be together and have a meal, it becomes an event. There is something comforting about food and fellowship, and there is also bonding and memories we make that carries us through until we can be together again.

Family dinners are important. According to several studies, the benefits of families eating together on a regular basis are: children have better success in school, it reinforces and instills family values, and it also helps to keep weight down. Teens that had family dinners five or more times weekly are less likely to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol.

When a family sits down to dinner together, it is a time to bond. It is essential to ban all cell phones, television, and other electronics during the dinner hour. Then everyone will be open to having conversations which allows the family to connect and to share information about what is going on in their lives. They can also discuss current events, family events, and anything and everything. Discussions allow the parents to reinforce values and give the opportunity for each member of the family to feel what they say is important and is a contribution.

In order to not make the family meal something that just falls on one family member, everyone should participate in the preparation and the clean-up, plus this adds to bonding time. For a short time, each day family members can feel connected, loved, and that they matter. They will know that they are part of something bigger and have to answer to more than just oneself.

In this busy age, it is hard to schedule one meal to be eaten together. The nice thing is that it does not matter what meal it is. If it is easier to schedule breakfast or lunch, then do it. Staying connected to family is important. It is precious time that you cannot get back.

Lord, thank you for my family. They are the people who know me best and yet, they still love me. I am tied to them by blood and experiences, both good and bad. These ties are strong and weather much pounding by outside forces. Remind us to cherish and love one another always, regardless of our faults and differences and to make the most of the times when we can be together so we can build lasting and fun memories. Amen

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