The Many Benefits of Family Meal Time
Years ago, RK and I learned something that really encouraged us. He’d come across some statistics that talked about this one thing that you could do to help your children to perform better in school, eat healthier, live longer and like their parents more. And maybe even more interesting to me was what happened when parents didn’t do this one thing. Kids were 3.5 times more likely to do hard drugs, smoke, drink and get involved in risky behavior. I was intrigued. What was this one thing? The answer really surprised me. All those benefits were a product of eating meals together.
Now, growing up in Hawai’i, my family rarely ate meals together. In our house, we’d just grab our meals and go back to whatever we were doing. For Dad that meant grading papers in front of the tv. For me, it meant sitting at the kitchen counter. Everyone did their own thing. And admittedly, I did all the things mentioned above.
When RK and I started our own family, we were determined to raise our kids in a different culture than either of the ones we came from. As believers, our purpose on the planet is relational. We are supposed to love God and love each other. Our God is a relational God. He wants us to be in relationships fostered with love. One of the ways we foster relationships with our children is through eating meals with them.
What is 5-5-5
RK created a tool called 5-5-5 to help others with this. It has questions to start conversations and gives us a goal of talking together 5 times a week, eating together 5 times a week and praying together 5 times a week.
How Our Family Does 5-5-5
In our house, we typically eat breakfast together every day. After breakfast, we get out our Source View Bible app and take turns reading a chapter of scripture aloud. We love this app because the different people in the Bible have different colors. One person may choose to read all of the scriptures from the apostles which would be in one color while another might be the narrator. It makes Bible reading more interesting. After that we pray together.
We don’t always remember to ask questions during meal times. But one of my favorite questions to ask the kids at the end of the day is, “What went well today?”
Praise Report for 5-5-5
The other day, after breakfast had ended the kids and I continued to hang out at the table. Somehow we got onto the subject of baptism. Keahi explained that she wanted to get baptized and why. Bubs also said he wanted to get baptized but was afraid of the others watching him when he did it. (We live on a YWAM campus and a bunch of the students were going to get baptized.). I explained that baptism is a public display of our faith. I also told him about all the things that I still do for Jesus even when I’m scared. Then Keahi talked to him as well. Towards the end of the conversation I felt the atmosphere shift and felt like an angel had entered the room. And I just had a knowing that my son was going to get baptized. I said, “You’re going to get baptized aren’t you?” And he said, “Yes!”
I was so happy, because of course I want all my children to walk with Jesus their whole lives. But it has to be their choice. I definitely feel like I didn’t push him to do it. But did I help to walk him through his fears? Absolutely. And all that happened around the table.
As I was digging in to the subject of family meal times, I found an article from Harvard EdCast talking about this very thing. Anne Fishel, the executive director of The Family Dinner Project was sharing on the benefits of family dinner. Find that article here.