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This topic is adapted from the Focus on the Family YouTube channel.

Did you know that eating family meals together is vital to the health of your kids? Research shows that kids who have family meals are less likely to struggle with things like drugs and alcohol. In fact, according to research from Columbia University, kids who don’t have family meals are twice as likely to have drug problems and almost twice as likely to struggle with alcohol.

[Related: Schedule It if You Want a Conversational Culture at Home]

Family Meals Provide a Protective Layer for Our Kids

It’s not the meal itself, but the committed time to connecting as a family that makes all the difference. It’s a time to share what’s going on in everyone’s life; what is going well and what is stressing them out. These intentional conversations help to protect kids from things like depression, anxiety, and sexual promiscuity because they have a place to share their heart.

Family Meals Should Be a Phone-Free Zone

Don’t let anyone come to the table with phones or gaming devices that allows them to check out from this time of connection. As parents, we need to lead the charge in this by setting the right example. At the dinner table, there should be no need to check emails or send work-related text messages. This time needs to be preserved for uninterrupted conversation.

Make Family Meals a Priority

Parents, we have to be willing to set the right tone. If sports or other extra-curricular activities so overwhelm our schedules that we can’t ever bond as a family, then we may need to assess our priorities. We only get so much time to influence our kids. We need to be willing to cut out things in order to make time for family connection.

Make Prayer a Part of the Experience

Don’t just pray for the food. Pray for each family member and pray for the specific things people share. This is a great way to keep God at the center of the family by going to him with our needs and concerns.

[Related: Are You Too Busy for God?]

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. On a scale of 1-10, how well are you doing at making family meals a priority? Why do you rate yourself this way?
  4. What are the things that inhibit your family from eating together? Where might you make some adjustments?
  5. How can intentional conversations help you to connect more with your kids?
  6. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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