A parent's influence around the dinner table

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Studies reveal that some of the most powerful parent-child interactions take place around the dinner table.

Campus ministry leader, Dan Dupee, encourages families to eliminate the distractions and take the time to eat together.

“The data is easily accessible, you can just Google ‘family dinner’ and you start to see it; all the positive things that occur to families that do it, and all the negative things when we’re moving so fast that we never have that point of connection with their family members.”

Dinnertime often creates an opportunity for parents to connect on a deeper level with their children. Dan discusses the importance of cultivating a spirit of gratitude around the dinner table.

“One of the things that ought to be happening around our dinner table is cultivating a sense of gratitude. It’s one of the most important things, as Christians, that we can give to our kids.”

By expressing our gratitude, our children will begin to learn how to express what is in their own heart.

“Gratitude is a discipline; it’s something that we feel sometimes, and sometimes we don’t, but as Christians it’s something we always ought to have because of what God’s done for us.”

“Working the gratitude muscle at the dinner table gets prompted by a very simple question, what was your good thing for the day? What was one thing that happened today that was part of your experience that you’re thankful for?”

Not every child will respond in the same way, so it’s important for parents to be patient and consistent. Dan elaborates,

“Younger kids still jump in right away. If you’ve got a teenager…probably for the first two weeks they’re going to look at you like you’ve got a third eye in the middle your forehead – just stay with it.”

Gratitude can change the culture of our homes and the condition of our hearts.

“Cultivating, together, a sense of being thankful and being grateful will change the culture of a home as quickly as anything I can think of. We want to shape the habits of our own hearts too, and we want to make ourselves available as often and as much as we can.”

Dan reminds us to take advantage of every moment we have to connect with our children and influence their lives.

“You really don’t get to choose your moment of influence. So from the time our kids are small, we simply learn to say ‘yes’ to them whenever they ask us to do anything. Just continue to say ‘yes’ and invest tons and tons of time, building that relationship with your kids.

“It’s never too early and that’s the opportunity that we have to shape our own patterns, our own habits, so that we are bonded to the young people that God gives us.”

Highlight: Around the dinner table

A parent’s influence

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