"It's my turn to speak. speak. speak..." His voice lowered in volume on each repeat. He had become his own sound system, complete with re-verb.
He, is four. His name is Noah. The chair, was at our kitchen table.
Attention. We all need it, but we're not as clear in our communication of that need as Noah!
As a mom of three boys- Mike-17, Matt-14, and Noah- 4. Around out dinner table, also sits myself, and The Missional Dad. (Kyle) Dinner time, (which varies greatly based on Missional Dad's schedule) is a time for us to connect, talk about our day and be together.
It's also chaotic. In addition to being hungry,(teen boys are ALWAYS hungry) we each arrive at the table, excited to "speak, speak, speak". Sometimes it' s hard to get a word in edge-wise.
Missional Dad and I try to make sure that each one gets a turn to talk. But- occasionally, someone ends up feeling over looked. That's how Noah ended up standing on his chair.
Dividing attention,so each family member has an opportunity to talk, is just plain hard. It is at other times too. It seems that in most families, there are "talkers" and "quiet ones". It's imperative thst each one gets a chance to talk. It is equally important, that each one learns to listen. Dinner time is a great time to connect, and practice!
Some tips for family-talk time (around the dinner table or otherwise)
1) Ask questions to draw quieter family members into the conversation.
Specific questions generally will provide more discussion than general ones, especially with teens...ie
- What are you working on in math?
- Who did you sit near on the bus?
- How was lunch?
- How was your day. and what did you do at school today? are notoriously answered with shrugged shoulders and "nothing" as their only answer!
3) Adults are to be respected and listened too, as well. This isn't JUST a time for kids to talk. (However- this is a time for family appropriate discussion, couples need other time to speak, speak speak... without little -or not so little- ears.)
4) Everyone gets a turn. Don't wait for someone to stand on a chair!
Now- don't get me wrong- all is not politics and Sponge-Bob....around our table. The testoserone ocassionally must be reigned in, as talk and food leads to.... gulping of air, and well- the things that follow;)
The boys have frequently reminded me that belching after a good meal, is a compliment in some cultures. To which I always reply. "Not, this one"
Questions to think about...
- Do you have time to talk as a family? Jesus, took time to talk to His disciples. He listened to their questions, and gave answers that were understandable. When we take time tpo both listen and 'speak speak speak" we are communicating God's love and value to our families, by our actions.
- How balanced is your family communication? Do you need to encourage other members to talk? Are there sometimes, when a "talker" may need to be reminded to give others a turn?
- Are there other natural times of communication, that your family shares? (driving time, before the bus, etc?)
- Noah has made his need abundantly clear to his family. "It's my turn to speak, speak speak..." In what ways do your family members communicate this need?
The research is clear. Families that take (make) time to eat together, around a family table, are healthier- both individually, and as a unit. If it's hard for your family to eat together, are there ways that you could change this?
(My husband travels- and often works long hours. When he travels, we still eat together at the table, when he's late- everyone has snacks then we eat together when Dad gets home)
Kids schedules also be nuts these days. It's important for families not to sacrifice relationship time, for activity time.... manu families, set a limit of activities that cut into family time, say one activity per child per quarter.... what do you do?
Dear Lord- I pray that we'd, first and foremost, be listening to your voice- God I pray that I'll listen, so you'll not need to stand on a chair to get MY attention. I also pray that we'd learn to live your love incarnationally, giving love and attention, as well as discipline and instruction at the table, to our children, at the table and at all times- I love you Lord and thank you for the priviledge of being a Mom- amen.