We try to have dinner together as a family every night in our Boys Town Family Home. Even on days when everyone “fends” for themselves or we do leftovers, we still sit down to pray and eat together.
It’s a must for our household because eating together is so much more than pushing potatoes or vegetables around on a plate. This is where we learn about our boys, see their personalities and get to know them better. We use conversation starters to find out about their day and to teach to what they tell us is happening.
That’s probably my favorite part; that the dinner table is where my husband and I get to role model positive behaviors and teach a variety of skills our boys can use for a lifetime – cooking for others, showing appreciation, learning how to pray, respecting others, having appropriate conversations, developing healthy eating habits and cleaning up after ourselves.
We put a lot of importance on our dinner time together and we have a few rules in our house that help us get the most out of it:
- Everybody sits together until we are done.
- We do not answer the phone.
- We include everyone in our conversations.
- We eat what is provided.
- We are respectful to one another.
In our time here at Boys Town, we have really come to see how important mealtime memories still are to the youth who lived with us before they graduated. Many of them will share stories and talk about how much they appreciated all of the meals we shared together when they call or stop by to catch up.
We hope the youth who live in our home today come to realize the same thing – that eating dinner as a family is a great way to spend time together and to build healthy relationships. Most importantly, we hope it’s a tradition they take with them and share with their own families after they leave Boys Town.