Family Day: A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children, is an initiative that encourages families to eat together. Research by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University has found that having regular family meals is one of the best strategies for improving a child’s chances of growing up physically, emotionally, and morally strong. It is good for children’s spiritual life as well.
As Tom McGrath writes:
“In my years exploring family spirituality, I came to realize that Jesus was onto something when he invited us to break bread in memory of him. Research study after research study has contributed to a mass of evidence showing how regular family meals (5 or more times a week) are good for what ails us. They offer stability during stress and transition. They lower the risks of cigarette use, alcohol use, drug use, and sexual activity in teens and pre-teens. They lower the risk of eating disorders in teens and increase the likelihood of success in school as well as socially. Regular family meals increase children’s health, self-esteem, personal identity, and academic achievement. And though I’ve yet to see any research data on this aspect, I’m convinced regular family meals are also a powerful way to pass on a living faith and communicate a family’s values.”
To help families in your parish value mealtimes, consider these ideas.
- Share Tom McGrath’s Raising Faith-Filled Kids Flyers (in Spanish) with the parents. The free flyers give practical parenting advice, including building the ritual of family dinner time.
Ask fun questions at the dinner table to encourage conversation. Model this behavior by posing a question at your next meeting to break the ice.
Suggest that mealtime prayer might be made more meaningful by letting everyone have a chance at choosing the prayer.
Check out 10 tips for better mealtimes and share the article link in a family newsletter.
Encourage families in their vocation with regular articles in the church bulletin or website about what’s happening in your program and how they can bring the message home.
What ideas do you have for celebrating Family Day with a spiritual outlook?