What’s Happening to Dinnertime…and Respect?


We are on a Latin American speaking tour and learning so much! Presently we are in Bogota, Colombia with some delightful families! Soon we will be moving on to Monterrey and Guadalajara. Every time we visit Latin America we are incredibly impressed with the quality of the families. The nurturing, love and respect that they give their children is mirrored in the respect that their children show for adults.

These boys below, 11 and 13, were excellent conversationalists, were happy to follow their parents’ instructions without an argument and were quick to jump at a chance to be of service. They were smart as whips, could answer any question about Columbian history we could throw at them and were delightful to be around.

We were invited to spend a couple of days at a beautiful farm with this family and the owner of the farm whose children were younger, two brothers, 8 and 6, joined by an adorable 3-year-old sister. The boys were riding around on four-wheelers as though they were born behind the wheel, but were instantly obedient to their parents and responded to every one of our questions by looking straight into our eyes.

The food was positively fabulous and we sat around the table and talked for about two hours after we finished each meal, which they said was typical for a family meal with their kids (although those were closer to an hour) . At a meeting with about 100 parents here we were assured that most families have long dinners with their children almost every night. In fact the three older children in our weekend group stayed for most of our long conversations. Amazing!

The word the Colombians use for their wonderful dinners is “sobremesa” or literally translated “over the table”.  We love that new word and committed to do a better job of talking “over the table” whether our kids are there or not.

This picture was taken at the end of one of our two-hours stimulating conversation. Only the sixteen year old made it to the end (upper left) but the other kids added a lot to our conversation which included everything from religion to politics!

It made me think that we American parents have a little work to do with our dinnertimes and our children’s interactions with adults.

Our daughter Shawni recently wrote a post on the lost art of children respecting adults in our modern family life because of something she read in a book our family loves called “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.” 

You can read what she had to say here.

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