I'm sure you have seen the reports like I have of how important it is for the family to have dinner together rather than eating in the car or at different times.
Below are some statistics that I found.
- The average parent spends 38.5 minutes per week in
meaningful conversation with their children. (A.C. Nielsen Co.)
dinners are more important than play, story time and other family events in the
development of vocabulary of younger children. (Harvard Research, 1996)
Frequent family meals are associated with a lower risk of smoking, drinking and
using marijuana; with a lower incidence of depressive symptoms and suicidal
thoughts; and with better grades in 11 to 18 year olds. (Archives of Pediatrics
and Adolescent Medicine, 2004.)
- Adolescent girls who have frequent family
meals, and a positive atmosphere during those meals, are less likely to have
eating disorders. (University of Minnesota, 2004)
Several years ago we lived in the country & we ate all our meals together because we were always together. The kids were younger so their extra activities were very minimal. But a few years ago we moved back to town & into a neighborhood. Now my kids are with friends a lot, have many other activities outside of the house and this is all making it very hard for us to eat dinner together. I remember when we first moved & for the first week or two I stayed frustrated because it was usually just me and the little ones eating dinner together.
It has taken me almost 3 years to come up with a solution to this problem. I evaluated what meals we we ate & who showed up the most. I realized that lunch was the meal that everyone was at, even my husband now that he works from home.
We homeschool, so our kids are home during lunch. Lunch is our new dinner. I don't fix a different meal, but I just make sure that everyone is at the table. This is where the most family discussion happens. It has become the most enjoyable meal of the day. We have a good time together.
On special occasions we make the table really nice. We set it & decorate for Christmas & Valentines. This year I hope to add a special Easter table to our tradition.
The table is where we talk about God's blessings in our lives. We listen to others talk about exciting things that have happened to them. It is not about naming names of those who have hurt or offended us. But we do comfort those when they share their hurts.
The table is where I try to teach manners. But that often feels like an ongoing project with no good results. I never know what they remember or learn. And rumor has it that when they are out of the house they act very respectable & mannerly.