This month, my “How To Be a Better Dad” Blog is going to focus on the dinner table; or more importantly, what’s lacking at the dinner table. If you are a family that stays “plugged in” during your most important family time, then it’s time for you to step up and be a better father to your family.
The Family That Eats
Together, Stays Together
Have you see this before? A typical, family seated together
at a restaurant; a family behaving completely detached from the real world at
the dinner table. Each member is carefully engrossed with their own activity,
holding their own, tech-instrument as if it was attached to the very oxygen
that is necessary for them to breathe. No family member is talking with one another. There is no attempt
of any parent to connect with their child at the dinner table.
Recipe for Disaster
This is growing problem in America and this behavior has got
to stop. We are losing our family connection and raising children absent of any
true family bonding. As a young boy, I can remember one of the most important
times to connect as a family is during a meal and it’s being abandoned to
technology and poor parenting. As a Father of three, I am going to share my
views on what’s going on at America’s dinner tables and what we can do to stop
this decline in family unity. This
isn’t a cooking class, because it’s not about teaching you a recipe that will
make you a better parent; this is a message of urgency and how you need to know
the recipe on getting your family back together is by connecting at the dinner
table again using these two easy steps.
The man in your mirror is you. There are millions of excuses
of why you are here and what events lead you to this point in your life.
However, if you think about it; those events in your life that have taken you
to this point of your parenting have lead you to me and this article; so
consider both of us lucky that we are both alive here to share the journey and
fix this problem with you and your family together.
My point is, we are both far from perfect, but perfectly
capable of making change happen…
and now is the time for you to take inventory and change your direction.
Your kids are looking for a leader and that leader is you. Be the example to
start making dinner time, family time and put away the technology at the dinner
table. Let me share my story on what I did to get my family "un-plugged" and
back at the dinner table together.
When I discovered this problem in my family, it didn’t take
long and I didn’t look far back to the days when I was a child and the
importance of connection with my parents. My father worked 6 days a week and my
mother was a stay-at-home mom who had to manage the household of 5 from sunrise
to dinnertime. My father always made it to dinner and if he was late; we all
had to wait for him. It was important for all of us to sit around the table and
connect. I can remember having a
connection with my parents and siblings during all of those dinners. From grade
school to high school, I can remember my dinnertime as important family time.
As I remember those days, it was easy for me to call out my
parents for a visit and have them help me with my "plugged in" family.
Bring In The
Our children have a natural ability to love and respect
grandparents. Grandparents translate to most children as a fun experience. Regardless
of the sound and often-familiar advice we share with our children; it is more
likely to be heard, absorbed and applied when our children hear the "grand
parents" view of things. If you want to "un-plug" your family at the dinner
table, you are going to have to call out those "special forces" and get the
grandparents involved with offering the teachings, stories and lessons that are
going to make a difference in your family dining experience.
A Simple Approach
All it took was one weekend having my parents over for a
dinner and letting them share "unfiltered stories" that only a grandparent can
tell, (unfiltered can include embarrassing moments about yourself or lost love
reminders or awkward moments in adolescence) but it is worth every moment in
the memory it created in my children. While I was busy behind the stove making
dinner, I gave my parents "free range" of my living room where they had my
three kids entertained before the meal. I can still remember listening to their
talking points as they spoke to my children with a mixture of humor and wisdom
of, "back in the day…"
There was no Internet. Technology was limited, left at work
and only used as a house phone and Black and White TV set. As simple as it is,
there was no excuse not to engage in meaningful conversation with every family
member. Every meal started with a "blessing" and each member was had to share
what they were "grateful" for in their life. As my parents continued to offer various stories of their
father’s mishaps, (which I cringed a few times based on the accuracy of these
events) I saw how my children were engaged, and saw that the lesson about
dinner time, was being taught effectively.
My parents continued to stress the meaning of time and how
the "Calendar of Life" plays an important part of their lives in the future.
They went on to tell my kids that the times and events that they share now are
valuable as gold. The little moments at the dinner table now will become
lasting memories when they grow older, because it will be harder to see
everybody when they become adults and have busier lives…This lesson in the time
spent with the people you love plays a valuable tool on making quality time,
At the end of my parent’s statement, I
saw my children collectively "get it" and a noticeable change took place the
next day. Everybody started to meet early for dinner. The table was set, the
phones, TV laptops were off and the genuine sound of conversation took place as
the meal was being served. Laughter consumed the dinner as well as everybody’s
recap of the day’s events. The bottom line was that my family had come back and
reconnected and I was grateful for he lessons learned and the value of having
The Family That Eats Together, Stays Together…
Richard “RJ” Jaramillo, is the Founder of SingleDad.com,
a website and social media resource dedicated to single parenting and specifically for the newly divorced, re-married, widowed and single Father with children.
RJ is self employed, entrepreneur living in San Diego and a father of three children. The mission of SingleDad is to help the community of Single Parents
“Make Life Happen…Again!”