Or Making It Easy to Get to the Table (part 6)
Has family dinner every sounded like this at your house? It never did at ours, well, not often...at least not every night.
But there were those nights.
How do you keep the atmosphere pleasant at your family mealtime table? Here are some suggestions:
1. Keep your sense of humor.
2. Discuss your atmosphere goals with your husband or wife. If you guys aren't in agreement about this it's not gonna work. We tried to have a signal to say to the other when we were getting worked up about something. One would say to the other, "Elephants" or whatever we chose. I have to admit, however, that this didn't always work. (I will take the 5th amendment on who it was that had trouble cooling down.)
3. Have a talk with the whole family about it. We were never big on formal "family meetings" to discuss issues, but we did have a family meeting of sorts, every night at the dinner table. I can remember asking questions like:
- What do you look forward to about dinner?
- Is there anything that makes you cringe when you think about our family mealtimes?
- What can we, as your parents, change to make it a happier time?
- What can you do to help make the atmosphere pleasant and inviting?
5. Have fun family reminders to use, especially if guests are present. The family of one of my good friends signaled each other with the silverware. The fork meant "get to the point." Holding up a knife signaled "cut it off." And the spoon meant, "Feed it to him!" You can use whatever your reminder is to help stop ranting, arguing, gossiping, or complaining. (Not that I think any of that would happen at your table!)
6. Agree to work on this together. Does one person feel never listened to? Another like everyone disagrees with him? Someone else feels hurried, or slowed? Ask them what would make them feel better. Get each person to offer a compromise they can do and give a commitment to do it.
7. Get a theme verse that you all want to be the working principle for your family mealtimes. Cross-stitch it and hang it on the wall!
8. Oh, and did I mention, have a good sense of humor?