I am a huge believer in family dinner. I have been reading a lot lately about all of the benefits of actually sitting down with your family and eating a home-made meal. Such a simple thing can truly be life changing for children.
Dr. Lee Salk says, “Meal time is incredibly important. . . . You can talk about your dreams; you can talk about your day; you can talk about your frustrations. The busier you are, the more valuable meal time is for your child”
“Every issue I care about crosses the dinner plate- everything.” In a radio interview Laurie David talks about how our families and society are suffering from not having family dinner together.
Laurie David, author of, “The Family Dinner,” has learned from personal experience that, “If family dinner had stopped, the lesson to my kids (and to myself) would be that we weren’t whole anymore, that something was broken forever. Family dinner helped all of us weather the rough days by forcing my kids and I to deal with one another, by reminding all of us every day that we were still a family.”
She discusses 3 ways to avoid the silent dinner table. I love the idea of having a “bag full of tricks” when your kids do not feel like talking, or someones feeling got hurt and you don’t know how to change the subject. After all this time is suppose to be spent growing closer to each other, not farther apart.
A study in the journal Pediatrics finds that children and adolescents who share meals with their families at least three times per week are less likely to be overweight, eat unhealthy foods or be at risk for eating disorders. Kids need to learn healthy eating habits when they are young. If dinner consists of the drive through at a fast food joint then how are kids going to get all the nutrients they need and know how to care for themselves?
Research has shown that there are few things we can do as parents that have as much potential to make a positive impact as regularly eating meals together as a family. Even if you can only eat together once or twice a week, doing so can make a difference in your home.
The Food Nanny is a great resource to help with family dinners. Every week she goes into someone’s home and tackles their busy lives or other issues to make family dinner a possibility. She makes family dinner easy and doable for you, no matter your excuses.
So this is the challenge of the week. Whatever level you are on right now with family dinner, do a little better. Make a healthier meal, play games with your kids during dinner, actually sit around the table together, or just be together tonight with your children. Good luck!