I have fond memories of family dinners around the kitchen table as I was growing up. It was a time to talk about our day, share some laughs and carve a few calm minutes out of a usually hectic life. Admittedly, now as a mom, achieving this same scenario has often been more challenging than I thought. As the kids grew older and schedules became more crowded, finding time to share a meal together at times required enormous effort. However, the benefits of family dinner have been cited repeatedly.
In her post, “Managing Meal Time Madness,” Allyson Reynolds offered 5 such benefits:
- It creates a moment of peace and stability during what is often a busy and stressful time. (Moms in particular are shown to benefit from these de-stressing benefits.) Nobody said you have to be sitting at the table together for an hour every night. Even just 15-20 minutes of together time can bring those benefits.
- The whole family is more likely to eat healthy when you make dinner yourself and eat it at home. That’s just common sense.
- More common sense: it saves money. Period. (Unless you really are eating cereal every night for dinner, which I hope you aren’t!)
- Research shows that eating family dinners at least five times a week has been linked to drastically lower levels of smoking, drinking, and drug use in teens. (Wow!) It’s suggested that the parental engagement that happens at the dinner table is what helps prevent those behaviors.
- A study cited by CNN also showed that “of the teens who eat with their family fewer than three times a week, 20% got C’s or lower on their report cards. Only 9% of teens who eat frequently with their families do this poorly in school.” (Gulp. How’s that for motivation?)
Over the years I have found that I have had to lower my expectations somewhat as to what constituted a “family dinner.” Sometimes it was as simple as take-out food around the kitchen table and there were many nights when we settled for the majority of the family being home in order to call it a success. “Progress not perfection” became our motto. And while we still have room for improvement, we’ve made countless memories along the way.
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How often do you have Family Dinner and What helps make it “Successful”? Please share your answer in the comments below.