“I don’t think I’ll be able to make it for dinner tonight…”

( [email protected] ) Oct 26, 2003 10:53 PM EST

In the life of the early churches as depicted in Acts, table fellowship was a central activity that united the believers. It created an atmosphere where any who gathered could share in the abundance of God’s love and grace inspite of social class or gender. Today, table fellowship is reflected on a smaller scale as family dinners. However, many families just don’t find the time to partake in an evening meal together anymore.

Many reasons come up for not being able to have a family dinner together. But are they reasons or really just excuses? Here are some common excuses given for not being able to make it for dinner and suggested solutions.

If: Dad or Mom works late and doesn't get home in time for dinner.

Try: If the children feel too hungry to wait, try feeding the children a healthy snack such as baby carrots or other raw vegetables or allow them to start on their appetizer such as salads and soups. If the parent works an extremely late shift, then maybe have breakfast as a “family dinner.”

If: The kids are involved in after-school activities.

Try: If your child plays a sport at school, try talking to the coach of the team to see how game schedule is like. Tell the coach that having family dinner is important to your family and if possible for the coach to cut the practice times a little so your child can get home earlier for dinner.

If: Dinnertime is when I watch my favorite show, especially the news.

Try: As Jesus once said, “Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” So, is not your children more important than TV? Still, if watching a particular show is a non-negotiable activity for you, then try recording the show so that you can have dinner with your children and watch the show later. As for the news, there is always the late news or plenty of online links that show the news.

If: The kids don't like to eat the same foods as the parents.

Try: What are the kids eating if they’re not eating what the parents cooked? Most likely, they’ll be eating take-out or fast foods like most kids I know. Of course, teaching your children to not be such a picky eater is important, but compromising with them is also good. Ask them to bring a recipe of the food they like or try modifying your cooking style to better suit them. You can also pick days where you can cook foods they prefer and days where they try out foods you like.

If: The kids can’t sit still in one place and always get restless during dinnertime.

Try: Kids are bored that’s why they get start squirming. Make dinner fun. Tell them a stories or share with them easy-to-digest facts about the foods they are eating Give them an incentive for eating. “If you eat the carrots, then you’ll have good vision just like Superman.” For younger kids, try giving them finger foods or bring a toy that can coax them into eating.

Remember, dinnertime can be a warm place where a family can bond. By sharing your day with your children and by listening to theirs, you are showing them attention, which is giving them love. Having dinner together can also help you tell if they are in a happy or upset mood. A child in a happy mood will have many things to share while a child who had some kids tease him at school will remain silent. Just as life to a Christian shouldn’t be just about making money, so dinner shouldn’t just about eating but about sharing God’s love and investing in the well-being of your child as well as your family.