Creating the perfect dinnertime ambiance

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By Melissa Ford

Coach - Personal & Business

You’ve heard the news from adolescent development experts: kids who eat meals with their families are more likely to be healthier, happier kids who perform well in school. That’s good news if dinnertime equates to quality family time, but when our son was in middle school, dinnertime didn’t bring us together; it drove us apart. 

Rockwellian images of a happy family sharing tasty food and stimulating conversation was what I strived for, yet most dinners didn’t turn out that way. 

Dinnertime was a battle of wills between my husband and son, whose manners (my son’s) rivaled those of a cave man, which infuriated my husband to no end. As dinnertime would approach, I’d feel tense or angry thinking about the impending arguments. I knew exactly how it would play out: my husband would correct our son’s poor table manners (elbows on the table, shoveling food, etc); our son would talk back; and an argument would ensue resulting in banishment from the table and strained conversations for those who remained behind. 

It became an ongoing battle of epic proportions!

One evening as I was setting the table, anticipating another blowup, I decided it was time to end the fighting or put an end to our togetherness. I was sick and tired of our mealtime ritual. As I viewed our rather small round table, I dawned on me that we were all practically sitting on top of each other. If only we had a bigger table. . . 

Wham! My creative light bulb went off! 

Quickly, I ran to the front closet and began digging into its deep recesses. I found the perfect solution - a table leaf! Inserting this extra section into the table magically increased the table’s diameter by a foot. I could not believe the difference! That evening our meal progressed without a hitch and afterwards, my husband happily reported that our son’s manners were finally improving because of his consistent follow through. 

To this day, our table still holds that extra leaf as a reminder that follow through is important, but creativity is oh so gratifying! 


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