You might know Rabbi Shmuley from his appearances on top shows like Oprah, or from his own show on TLC, Shalom in the Home. He’s now prompting families to turn off the television on Friday night, gather around the dinner table, and spend time with the family.
In our home we eat dinner at the dinner table every night, and we share stories about our days. If daddy is late, its me and the girls; but we do this every single night barring any schedule changes, such as a recital or dinner out.
We use this dinner time to talk about our days, and we go from person to person, allowing the girls to begin, since their stories are generally long and involved and since they have much shorter attention spans. When the girls finish eating and are dismissed from the table, my husband and I finish up stories about our own days if we didn’t get enough time to do it when the girls were present.
I love this time of night. It’s such a wonderful way to connect, and I feel that we always know what is going on in our daughters’ lives. Many things come out during this time – my oldest daughter’s wish to continue into competitive gymnastics, and my youngest daughter’s desire to start dance classes. We hear about what they ate for lunch and snack, and who did what during school hours.
While not every family sits down for a family meal, they should: Statistics show that girls who eat five or more meals with their families are a third less likely to develop unhealthy eating habits, while researchers at Columbia University found teenagers who have two or fewer weekly meals with the family are twice as likely to smoke daily and get drunk monthly. Sadly, in the past 20 years there has been a 33% decline in eating together; if Rabbi Shmuley has anything to do with it, we will all be gathering around the table as a family.
“For many families, eating dinner
together is a rarity and when it happens, is typically in front of the
television,” says Shmuley. “And if not the TV, someone is
checking their Blackberry, texting a friend, or tagging a photo;
some form of tech pollution. Committing ourselves to 104 hours each
of tech-free time with family will help us re-shift our focus away from
iPhones and towards what really matters: Family.”
His initiative, Turn Friday Night Into Family Night, involves what he calls the Triple Two: Two hours of uninterrupted time, inviting two guests, and discussing two important topics.
While I’m not sure our family can do the second part, inviting two guests each Friday to dinner, I’m certain we can fit in the two hours (dinner and a game or puzzle) and the two important questions.
How about you?