Words With Kids: A Recipe for Making Mealtimes Matter


As parents, we all want to make a positive impact on our children and do our best to raise them well. The single most valuable thing you can do today as a mom or dad is to share a meal with your child. Having regular meals together five to seven times per week is critical to their development of language and relationship with you.

Sharing regular meal times cultivates a stronger relationship between you and your child. Daily check ins over a meal may be the only time you’re face to face with your child each day, especially as they grow into tweens and teens.

Here is my recipe for making the most out of mealtimes at our house: 

  • 1 Meal of your choice. It can even be take out!
  • 1 Table or meeting spot of your choice. Doesn’t have to be at home!
  • 1 Family
  • 1 cup of humor
  • 3 cups of listening ears
  • 1 cup of sharing your day
  • 2 TB of laughter
  • 1 TB of thoughtful questions

Mix ingredients together to create a meal time that matters to your family. Use humor to liberally season the conversation. Be sure each family member has a cup of listening ears for themselves. You may need more than 1 TB of thoughtful questions, depending on your family. Adding more will not affect the finished product.

Repeat 5-7 times per week for optimum results.

IMPORTANT: Before you begin this recipe, put away your cell phone, tablet or laptop until after the meal is complete. Turn off the TV. Distractions may cause finished product to fall in the middle.

Icebreaker Ideas

If your child is reluctant to share about their day or talk much, here are a few thoughtful questions you can try. Be prepared to share your own answer, too!

  • What did you eat for lunch today?
  • Who did you play with at recess? What did you do together?
  • What is your homework like today? What’s your favorite subject right now and why?
  • Share the best and worst moments of your day.
  • How many animals did you see today? Which ones and where?
  • What are your hopes (or dreads) for tomorrow?
  • What challenges are you facing? How can I help you?

Making time to daily share a meal with your children is so important. It doesn’t have to be dinner; you can share breakfast or lunch. Meal sharing will look different for each family. Make it your own, and make it matter.