Our world gets more atomized and distracted every day. Everyone is too busy being “entertained” with all of this nonsense to really appreciate and understand human interaction. In speaking back and forth with some of the commenters here, the topic of getting together as a family for dinner came up. I thought about it deeper and realized that people are so wrapped up in things that don’t matter that they let their real life interactions slip. Today, I’ll share what I do with my family and the benefits I’ve seen from creating time to just be together.
Despite my busy life, I’ve made sitting down as a family for dinner a must in my home. The TV goes off, all devices away/off, and we sit there eating a home cooked meal every night. Each of us talks about our day, things that we have coming up, and even a little humor/fun. If you aren’t doing this, I highly recommend you start because it is one of the best parts of my day. If your wife can’t be there to cook a meal in time every day, I recommend a slow cooker. We use ours 4 to 5 times a week and make a ton of delicious dishes.
More important than the actual meal and media shut down is the interaction we’re having. In an age where you can be surrounded by tons of people every day, yet not have a single interaction with them, things like the dinner I described just feel good. It got me thinking about other things I’ve done with the family that stuck out in my mind, because we were interacting and doing something that actually mattered. Even people living in the same house can just drift by each other, never really interacting just inhabiting the same house.
Put Them to Work
One thing I do to build our family bonding is get everyone involved in our garden/animal raising. It isn’t easy, but that’s kind of the point. Kids today have it too easy, and I’m a firm believer that instant gratification is toxic to children, as they’ll grow to always expect it. Also, just taking your kids somewhere isn’t creating a lasting bond. Carting them off to the arcade or to a movie is just entertaining them. Our goal is to create an experience with their participation and responsibility.
Last year I had been raising quail for eggs/meat. I had the kids in the garden picking weeds while the wife and I cleaned out the coop. It was mid-August and above 90 degrees. Sure, it was hot outside, and cleaning up quail shit isn’t the most fun, but we were all out there accomplishing a goal together, and the eggs, meat, and vegetables we got in return provided not only a sense of accomplishment, but further solidified us as a unit. One thing that struck me was how level headed the kids were when we were butchering the quail. I did the business of the actual kill, but my wife and kids were more than capable of removing skin/feathers, organs, and prepping them for the freezer.
This experience for them was to teach that food doesn’t just come from the store, and a sacrifice has to be made for us to eat. Being born in a city, this is something I never got to experience as a kid. Activities like this are good for everyone involved.
One on One
A final topic I’ll touch on is doing things with your kids one on one. A King’s Castle contributer and commenter “JumpnJive” brought this up in my last article. If you have an only child or multiple, spend time with them one on one. I’ll take my ten year old son with me for “manly” things like yard work, fixing/washing the car, even a classic game of catch. Hes really staring to develop his own sense of his masculinity each day, and I see him growing into an even better version of myself. The conversations we’re starting to have are ones that seemed so far away when he was in diapers.
I only have one daughter, and I make time to plan activities with her too but its more playing than anything. Board games (yes kids still use those I was shocked as well), crafts (which can be really cool with a daughter), and the like are all things you can do.
Once more, its not the activity itself, but the chance to really connect with your kids and start to understand their personalities. Equally important, your kids get to get a better understanding of who dad is.
My last article touched on things to do with just your wife so you two can feel like a couple again. This was the next logical step for me as a writer because what you do with your family is important. Any asshole can buy his kids a bunch of iPads and send them on their way. Creating experiences, and actually passing on something meaningful is second to none.
Family dinner at the table is a must that all of you should be doing already. Turn off all that distraction and just enjoy the company of the people around you. Get engaged in fun, recreational but purposeful activities that teach them how to be self sufficient and self reliant. Finally, spend time with each of your children one on one. Both of you will gain insights about each other that you otherwise couldn’t with the whole family around. I typically don’t end with a quote, but I found it quite relevant.
All great change in America begins at the dinner table-Reagan