"The supper table is ground zero for your family."--Carey Casey, CEO of the National Center for Fathering
In a recent podcast for Fathers.com, Carey Casey (former Dallas Cowboys chaplain) talks about the importance of spending time with your family eating together at the supper table. Toward the end of the podcast, Casey mentions that if you have a five-year-old child, you have over 4,000 meals at the supper table left before that child leaves home.
According to the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, more than 71% of fathers eat at least one meal per day with their children. The study also noted that roughly 63% of fathers said that they speak to their children about their day every day.
What does speaking to your child every day and eating with them every night tell you about yourself as a parent? You're almost half-way to becoming a successful parent.
In Malcolm Gladwell's 2008 book, Outliers, he proposes a "10,000 Hour Rule", which states that in order to be successful at something, you have to spend 10,000 or more hours practicing it. His examples are quite successful: Bill Gates and The Beatles.
So, if you spend an hour a day eating/talking with your 5 year-old-child (don't forget about your wife/significant other either!), you would amass over 4,000 hours with that child before he/she leaves home. Then, add in another hour and a half of reading, playing, or driving together, and by the time your child leaves home, you'll be an expert parent.
Is that why grandparents always have so many ideas on how to raise your children?
Teachers have a saying, "Kids don't care what you know until they know you care." Your children want to know you care more than anything, but when they know you care about them, they'll listen to just about any advice you have to give.
So, don't worry about being an expert, instead focus on becoming an expert. Whether you're taking your child to school or for dessert at Yogurt Story in Denton, you are learning about your children, and they're learning about you.
Somewhere between your wife's chicken spaghetti and Chik-Fil-A, you'll get your 10,000 hours.