How often this week have you eaten dinner with your family? If it’s like most families, not often.
With so many activities such as after school sports, clubs, lessons, working late, etc. it’s a wonder we have time to eat at all, much less with the rest of the family.
Most of us may feel slightly guilty about not having more family dinners but it’s really not a big deal, right? Wrong.
Eating dinner together as a family is more than just having a meal. Breakfast and dinner are usually the only times a family has to be together for a meal. And breakfast is usually more hectic than dinner.
It’s best to sit down at the table together but even a having a movie night with dinner on TV trays in front of the television once a week will foster family togetherness.
You may be surprised by some of the facts about eating dinner as a family on a regular basis. For example, kids who eat dinner with their family on a regular basis, aren’t as likely to get involved in risky behavior like sex, alcohol and drugs. It even helps teen girls to keep from developing an eating disorder. It seems strange that one of the things that we take for granted can actually help our kids make wise decisions.
So what gives family dinners such special powers?
Well, first, it’s a chance to share about our day with each other. With all the influences of the outside world, having dinner together is a great way for children to reconnect with their parents. They can talk to their parents and each other about what’s on their minds, and what they are dealing with such as teachers, school, peer pressure, etc.
It’s a good time for parents to share about their own day too. It makes the parents seem more “real” to their kids and fosters closeness.
There is something about sharing a meal with anyone, that brings you closer to that person.
The sad fact is that parents, on average talk to their children for less than 40 minutes each week. It’s hard to get to know someone in such a short amount of time. If you are eating dinner with your kids, and having a conversation at the dinner table, you are spending that much time and maybe more each night.
Young kids learn their communication skills from their older brothers and sisters and mom and dad. Dinner time is a great time for hem to learn these skills. It also a time that helps them to feel “heard” and acknowledged.
Kids love to be the center of attention and at the family dinner table, they get their chance to be that but also to share the limelight with others.
It’s a good idea to get your kids to help prepare the meal and set the table. When I was working full time outside the home, each of my kids (ages 12 and up at the time) had a night where they chose the meal and prepared it. The other nights, they helped me or their siblings with dinner preparations.
With all the benefits of eating dinner as a family, it’s really worth the while to try to implement this habit. Try to rearrange your family’s schedule so that you can fit in as many family dinners as possible.