Pope Francis has given his ten tops tips for a happy life. Do you know what they are? I think they are great tips for anyone trying to be a more peaceful parent as well. One was to foster a culture of healthy leisure in our families, to play with our children more, and turn off the TV more, especially at dinner time.
A number of surveys done on our TV watching habits over the last couple of years show that adults are increasingly using the internet as a source of entertainment, but we still love our TVs and are watching on average 13-19 hours a week, sometimes rising to 25 hours a week.
Now we all need to sit and chill out some time every day, especially of an evening, but the monopoly that digital screens of one kind of another have in our homes is worrying health and education experts and it is easy to argue that it makes us ultimately less healthy and less happy
To touch on just one way it affects us, a recent international survey found that three quarters of the respondents regularly ate dinner in front of the TV. Three quarters! Now a lot of families must belong in that majority. A lot of young families, where children are being raised and young adults are being formed.
Now how often through a normal day do you really have time to sit and talk with your kids and spouse and find out about their day and what they think about things?
In our family we do a bit of talking in the car as we drive home from school or basketball training, but mainly it’s over the dinner table where we can see and hear each other properly. Everyone has a turn telling describing the best (or worst) part of their day.
Sometimes we hold a little debate on a topic such as ‘homework should be banned’, or ‘chocolate should be a staple food’. It’s surprising what comes out of these conversations sometimes
To be honest dinner time is rarely a peaceful experience at out place – particularly when the children are kicking each other under the table or rejecting the food. Table manners need correcting and spilled drinks need mopping up, and it’s annoying when most of our toddler’s food ends up all over the highchair and the floor.
But eating dinner as a family has been linked to children’s improved vocabulary and school performance, lower risk-taking behaviours in teenagers, improved diet, and stronger family relationships.
So at least in the interests of being a more peaceful parent overall, and for the sake of your kids – turn off the TV and eat dinner together more often as a family. It will bless you, and your family, on so many different levels.
If you have a family at your place how many times a week do you all eat together at the dinner table? We probably manage four or five times a week if you include my husband, and seven times a week for the kids and me. I’m sure it will become more challenging to get together daily as the kids get older!