Parents Should Feed Their Children's Hearts, Not Just Their Stomachs

Remember when in the movie Ratatouille the food critic recalls the flavors of his childhood? I would argue that the critic's experience went far beyond tasting familiar flavors! I would say that those flavors meant so much because it reminded him of FAMILY TIMES.

Mr. Jacob Kliatchko, in his talk "Spend Quality Time, Not Money" commented on how young families often focus on providing material things for their children and maximizing their chances of success at any cost. These efforts can be so great that time becomes scarce and there is limited time left to focus on other things. Many times, when time is scarce, what goes first is family time.

How do we develop family time? There are some basic strategies, some keys to success. Strategies that although simple, may be harder to implement than they appear to be. Once these strategies are implemented, you may see magical results. What are these strategies? Family meals, family reunions, and the unbeatable "one-on-one" time with your family members are among the most important of these strategies. There are multiple studies that speak to the great long-term results that these practices leap on your children and your family as a whole.

Barbara Curtis wrote in a recent article titled A Long-lasting Simple Recipe for Success that if we want our children to have good academic performance, healthy self-esteem, good social skills and manners, what we need to do is to sit down and eat together! Studies have shown that teenagers who have family dinners are less likely to fall into addiction, experience teenage pregnancy, and commit suicide. For more data on family dinners I highly recommend the following article: ABCNews.

Speaking about the benefits of spending family time brings to mind an anecdote of my uncle. He spent the last years of his life traveling around the world. He said to me once (partly jocking and partly not) that he was spending the inheritance of their children with all that traveling! We know how tricky the topic of inheritance can be for many families, but I remember his exact words "money is valued the most when you have worked hard to earn it". He believed that education did not consist on giving his children everything they wanted. He left them something greater than a big inheritance: the skills and education needed for them to succeed on their own and create their own wealth. I learned from him that providing material things to our children is not what will help them succeed. Education goes far beyond feeding empty stomachs!

Let's have family dinners!

(By the way, there is a great book about dinner time called The Family Dinner, great ways to connect with your kids one meal at a time, by Laurie David with recipes by Kirstin Uhrenholdt )