One of the set family rules in our house is that we all meet for dinner at the same time and the same table.  We have done this since our kiddos were born and it is a staple in our house.  This may seem a little “old school” to some with our chaotic lives but it’s what we do.  If you are anywhere close to this house at dinnertime, you better be in your chair.

Depending on the exact time, the nightly news may or may not be on.  We begin with prayer. There is always conversation and we share the workload.  From the beginning, the expectation was set that we all live here so we all share the workload.  None of what we do is rock science.  It is basic stuff that keeps up present with one another.

One absolute rule – No phones at the table.   Don’t even bring them in your pocket (yes this is true when we go out to eat as well.)  No games, no texting and no talking to anyone other than who is in front of us.  If any phones ring and we are at the table, oh well.  That’s what voicemail is for.

Conversation about what happened to everyone during the day at school or work is a must.  We ask questions, we air gripes, we sometimes cry.  But there is always a lot of laughter and conversation.

Lately our daughter has become super involved in Debate at school.  This is awesome!  What can be very trying is that we now discuss a lot of current events, may of which are very hot buttons.  Our daughter has a wonderful coach who has taught the team to take some of the personal emotion out of debating.  What we are left with is a teenager who knows about current political events and wants to actively discuss them.

The blessing behind this is our younger son is watching and learning.  The gusto is still in speaking.  The education is there and the thirst for sharing ideas is definitely alive at our dinner table!  What is also there is R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

When I was growing up my dad used to tell me “You can think anything you want but it doesn’t all need to come out of your mouth”.  Sage advice.  My two kiddos will tell you they have heard this many many times.  They will also tell you stories of being told to watch what comes out of their mouth or soap will go in it.  The grocery store was a fresh hell for them.  They loved to go, but were angels in the dish soap aisle.

It seems in our culture respect has been forgotten.  Models of rudeness and violence are pretty much the norm.  Snarky behavior and lack of respect are fully expected and sometimes shrugged off as “It’s just the age” or “They are going through a bad time”.  I don’t buy it.

We have found (and fostered) respect at the dinner table.  Everyone helps set and clear the table.  We engage in conversation, sometimes very heated but always respectful.  We listen to one another.  It is the one place I know we each feel heard, loved and respected.

Tiffny Hagan is the founder and owner of Virtual Office Advantage.  Our desire is to thoughtfully offer those business services you need to grow your organization with a virtual assistant by your side.  To see all of the services we offer and to find out more, I invite you to visit  We’d love to have you share with others what you are reading and let us know if there is a topic you’d like us to help with.  Also be sure to “like” us on Facebook at