Imagine getting ready for a family meal at your house. You’ve taken the time to fix a meal, one that the entire family will enjoy, and you’re looking forward to catching up on the day with your family. Then that a complete stranger walks into your house, pulls up a chair, and sits down at the table.
The next thing you know, your kids are enamored with this stranger. You try to get their attention, but it’s no use. The stories he is sharing, the jokes that he’s telling, have captivated your children’s attention.
I imagine most parents would not allow this type of stranger to take a seat at the family dinner table, yet every day, at dining room tables across the world, this stranger is a welcomed guest. Take a step back, maybe readjust your glasses a little, and really focus on what the stranger looks like. And allow me to introduce this stranger to you: it’s your Mobile Device!
The reality is, we live in a 24/7 digital media world. Our society has embraced, and therefore accepted, the idea that digital media is a substitute for conversation and relationship building.
When I was growing up, dinner time at our house was very important. I think family mealtimes have always been an important time for families to talk to one another, share the reactions of their day, laugh and tell stories, and grow in their relationship with each other. I believe families today still would like to have those interactions, but we’ve allowed a stranger to take a seat at the table and rob us of these rewards.
So how do we fix this? What’s a small step you can take to bring family time back to the dinner table? What if you picked one meal, that you traditionally eat together, and for the next seven meals everyone stacked their mobile devices in the center of the table right when you sat down?
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The rule that everyone, including parents, agrees to is that no one is allowed to pick up their device during the meal. Period, no exceptions. No matter what ding, vibration, or call that comes in, mobile devices are off-limits during the meal!
I’m not proposing that you do this for every single meal together for the next seven days. I’m proposing that you simply step into this change, and see if the time spent in “old-school” conversation brings value to your family mealtime.