Do you ever feel like another day has ended and you barely connected with the people who matter most? Some days come and go so quickly. Schedules are jam-packed, and you barely have enough time to cover the basics, such as getting homework done and putting a decent meal on the table.
Before you know it, you are tucking the kids into bed, and you still feel out of breath. At that moment, you may start wondering – did I even connect with my kids today? What happened in their day when I wasn’t around?
I know the feeling. I’ve been there many nights.
Now more than ever, we must connect with our kids. Our kids need to hear us speaking truth and encouragement into their situations. But how can we do that if we don’t know what’s going on in their world when we are not around? How do we get them to open up without the typical one-word response to our outpouring of questions?
In our home, we have found an effective approach that allows us to gain insight without grilling our kids with a million questions. It’s something that we do at dinner time, but it can be done in any setting.
Dinner time for us is like hitting the pause button. It’s a moment where we all come together in one place and with one purpose. I love dinner time. There’s nothing like it.
Let me paint a picture of what it looks like in my house: Dinner is ready. I call everyone to the table, and they come immediately. We sit down nicely with hands folded in our laps until we have prayed over the meal. Then, we begin to eat our meal with plenty of compliments, light conversation, and excellent manners. Yeah, right!
Now let’s get real. I have four young, energetic kids. Our dinner time is a bit crazy. No one arrives at the same time, but we wait until all six of us are sitting down. The kids argue about who gets to pray over the meal. The baby throws food across the table; broccoli lands in someone’s drink. At least one child jumps up to use the bathroom. We have another child who likes to hang upside down on his chair, and of course we have at least one spilled drink per meal. The conversation is loud; the table gets messy.
From the outside looking in, dinner time looks completely chaotic.
I really do love it, though!
Using Mealtime to Connect
Amidst all the chaos, there’s a moment at our dinner table when we capture everyone’s full attention. It happens the moment we announce: It’s time for Highs and Lows! Immediately, a smile captivates the faces of our little ones. Every child sits quietly in their chairs with an eagerness to share about their day.
During Highs and Lows, every person at the table gets a turn to share what went great and what didn’t go so great during their day.
We have three basic rules for Highs and Lows:
Each person gets the opportunity to share.
Everyone listens attentively to the person sharing. No side conversations or interruptions allowed. Questions and comments may occur before moving on to the next person.
No one can copy or repeat an answer.
The kids love Highs and Lows, and so do we! We have found this to be an effective approach in getting our kids to open up about their day. It’s also neat to see the kids taking interest in one another. As we share happy moments from our day, we get to rejoice together. When challenging moments are shared, we get to offer support and encouragement.
This moment at the dinner table connects us on a deeper level. In Colossians 2:2 of the Bible, Paul writes “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love…”
That’s my goal as we sit down to talk about our experiences and swap stories of successes and setbacks. I constantly tell my kids that no matter what happens outside of our home, they have a safe place right here within our family. I tell them, “Look around this table. These are the people who love you and will always be there for you in life.”
I want my kids to be encouraged in their hearts and to be knitted together in love.
Bonding takes place around my dinner table.
The Benefits of Highs & Lows
My favorite part about Highs and Lows ~ as my kids share about their day, my husband and I get that much-needed insight into our kids’ lives. We get to enter into those moments where our kids experienced conversations between peers that were confusing or moments where they witnessed kids mistreating others. From there, we are able to be the voice of encouragement and truth.
These moments open the door for us to teach them important life lessons. Lessons that they take with them when we are not around. It happens in an easy, relaxed setting with a simple but effective approach.
What approach do you use to dig deeper into your child’s day? Have you tried Highs and Lows? I would love to hear about it. Please post in the comments below. If this post was helpful, we would love for you to share it.