Family Dinners

The kid I have left at home has to be back in school in 6 short weeks. We have downloaded the reading list and he’s had 2 weeks at rowing camp. We are in the sweet lazy days of summer with an unstructured homework-free schedule.

One of the best parts of summer is that our dinner time routine stabilizes so that I can look everyone in the eye over a meal and assess how the day has gone. Why I take such personal pleasure in this is probably because it was part of my food and family heritage but now, there are some compelling reasons why we ought to hold onto this tradition and it’s not just for memory’s sake. Here are 10 strong reasons to hold them regularly:

Arhaus_familydinnertime_v041. Eating together enables you to pass along your food philosophies to your children and others. You can converse about eating locally and seasonally and the benefits of both.

2. Dinner conversation is important whether or not it is about food. Researchers at the West Virginia University Extension found that children increased their vocabulary at a more rapid rate when dining with their parents.

3. The same study found that children are more likely to incorporate fruits and vegetables into their eating habits than if their families ate meals on the fly.

4. A study from WebMD revealed that adolescents who had family meals at least 5 times per week were more likely to receive As and Bs than their colleagues who did not.

5. The same article advocates for family meal time rituals because of the studies that point to kids who are less likely to do drugs or get depressed. Check out the additional reasons for creating a family dinnertime!

6. Another piece of research claims to have conducted regression analyses on a myriad of factors from a population of Rhode Scholars. Although, I am not able to source it, the single common variable identifying them as a Rhode Scholar? Their participation in family meals.

7. Eating together allows the opportunity to prepare a meal together giving the life skill of cooking and perhaps mastery of a few recipes.

8. Family dinner does not have to be fancy or predictable. How about a picnic on the lawn after a swim meet? What is predictable is the routine of having the meal and that can give children a sense of security that builds confidence.

9. Family meals give us the opportunity to raise more considerate children. Through meal guidelines and the enforcement of manners, children are prepared for dining out at the homes of others or in restaurants. Make a list of your basic dinner rules such as using please and thank you, saying a dinner blessing or no television. Break up the chores such as setting the table, filling water glasses or cleaning up afterwards.

10. If dinners are truly difficult due to varying schedules and availability, try breakfast together each day. Set up a schedule in advance so that everyone understands when they’re expected to be home for meal time. The real benefit of holding this ritual is that it becomes part of the definition of your family. It can build a loving trusting relationship amongst you and your kids and between your children.

Eating as a family can be an unfamiliar transition for busy parents and kids who don’t do it regularly and are used to eating on the go. If your family is trying to create a new tradition of gathering around the table for meals, one of the biggest challenges parents may encounter is keeping their children comfortable enough to sit still for the duration of a meal and conversation. If your children are fidgeting throughout meals, it may be worthwhile to consider dining sets with an aligned seat to table height ratio.

What tricks and tips do you have or need that enable you to hold regular family meals?

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  1. Carolyn Niethammer

     /  June 30, 2018

    I cannot imagine a child or an adolescent eating a serving of vegetables without a family dinner. It was such a part of my life, as of most of my generation, the thought that some kids never sit down with the family is almost incomprehensible.

    • My parents never had to force me to eat fruits & veggies . . . they had to convince me to eat meat. 😀

  2. sharilynns

     /  June 30, 2018

    Those boxes of “Table Topics” were fun to use when the family was all at the table – it made for interesting conversation and helped us explore ideas we might not normally talk about!

    • I think those are a great idea an frankly, a good grown-up dinner party accessory as well.

  3. I’m glad you have 6 more weeks of summer and mealtime magic! Enjoy it.

  4. Thanks Nancy.

  5. We eat at the table every night, even if it is just the two of us 🙂 Great post!

  6. When I was a kid & up till now, we always have dinner conversations & sit together for a meal! I can’t believe many families sit in their couch eating their meals before the TV! What about quality time & sitting relaxed at the main table?


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