Why family dinner?
Are you a parent? Do you live on planet earth? Then,I’m convinced that you must have heard about all the important things that can come about when you sit down with your kids every night to eat dinner: They’ll perform better in school, have greater self-esteem and they’re most likely to prefer taking fruits and veggies to drugs. You can testify to this yourself!
Reasons that might surprise you
This blog post is based on tips and tricks from Jenny Rosenstrach’s blog Dinner: A Love Story. Jenny is also the author of two books and had always written about family dinner for almost half a decade now. These two books unveil the benefits that come from sharing a family meal. Below are a few more points that might surprise you about family dinner.
The Good Things about Family Dinner
1.Dinner’s got magical power
When I use to be a full-time transport office worker, I called family dinner “The Magic Guilt Eraser” because I was not always chanced to prepare dinner for my daughter, so staying away from them all day made me to feel that was the right way to relief myself of the stress. In subsequent years, I then discovered that sitting down with your kids always has the power to wipe off the guilty conscience in you because you may have;
- forgotten Crazy Hat Day again.
- missed the baseball game, especially when it is your child that scored the winning point.
- been promising your kids that you will see Avengers: Age of Ultron yet you never fulfilled your promise to them.
- Not been able to get your 8-year-old kid have great passion for Holes as much as you do, and as such, you stopped reading it halfway through and now you find it difficult to either continue reading the book or start a new one, resulting in no bedtime reading for over a long period of time.
- When you prepare your own meal, say, at least one meal of the day, you know exactly what goes into that food. Unless you are an extraordinary human (or Lisa Leake!), it’s not too easy to cook from start to finish every single night – yeah we can’t! Um, hello Trader Joe’s baked beans. But when you set the pace that high, you’re on your way to hit a level you’d be comfortable with.
2. You’ll know what goes into your children bodies
When you prepare your own meal, say, at least one meal of the day, you know exactly what goes into that food. Unless you are an extraordinary human (or Lisa Leake!), it’s not too easy to cook from start to finish every single night – yeah we can’t! Um, hello Trader Joe’s baked beans. But when you set the pace that high, you’re on your way to hit a level you’d be comfortable with.
3. You’d perform more efficiently at work
Jack White, a musician once said and I quote “Deadlines are your friends, they are productivity gods.” I’m making reference to this quote because thinking of dinner as the deadline at the end of every workday by saying “I need to get home in time to prepare that chicken at exactly 6:30” I can assure you will get more work done at the office in order to meet up with that your target of cooking chicken by 6:30.
4. You’d save more when you cook dinner yourself
Ordering take-away every night increases your bill on a daily basis. If you have plan to cook dinner throughout the week then go shopping for all that would be needed, may be on Sunday, by doing this, you’ll spend less. And when you are able to save money for yourself during the week, you can feel more relaxed and financially confident to treat yourself to a good dinner out over the weekend.
5. It’s quality time on autopilot
I can stay with my kids a whole day driving them all over, complaining about them not hanging up their jackets properly, approving their eight zillion hand-outs and at the end of it all, not having a single significant interaction with them. Well, I do not know about you. I know my kids and I will all see face-to-face at 6:30 without phones, no interruptions and no hand-outs approval.
This makes such a big difference in my overall appearance every day. Keeping up with the ritual every day will make your kids not only view the table as a place to consume their noodles but also a safe place to talk about anything that matters or sometimes maybe nothing. I will say that it will be nice to have a good system in place that will always initiate this connection because you can not always force it happen.
6. Your kids learn how to make good choices
Dinner provides a good avenue for kids to actually talk about the composition of the food, the ingredients combined to prepare what’s on their plate, and the source of those ingredients. So when it comes to feeding themselves outside the family dinner table, they will be more learned to make the right choices except may be the choice involves a Milky Way Midnight whereby ‘neither of my daughters or their parents are physically capable to choose a Fuji apple over a Milky Way Midnight’
7. Kids learn how to TALK!
The 2014 article, “Saving the Lost Art of Conversation” troubled me. In it, Sherry Turkle, who oftentimes writes about the effect technology has on children’ growth and development. Sherry discussed how increase in digital communication means lesser chances for kids to learn on tonal and visual cues. It also gives them fewer chance to actually learn how to have good conversation. But during dinner, kids learn how to communicate with parents and are able to express themselves in actual conversation terms.
Why don’t we make use of this device-free family dinner as a tool to fight all this? This might even reduce the guilt of not giving iPhone 5s to our children.
8. It’s good leverage for later
My daughters are 11 and 13, so it feels like any day now they’re going to have no interest in hanging out with their parents on a Friday or Saturday night — unless Tony’s Steak, Salmon Salad, or my husband’s world-famous Pappardelle with Pork Ragu is on the menu. I’m pleased to report that as of right this second, the pull of a favorite family dish is still slightly stronger than the pull of a sleepover with the best friend and I’d like to eke this one out as long as possible. (Note: For parents of babies and toddlers, I know, the idea of being kid-less on a weekend night probably sounds like your idea of pure heaven right now, but trust me on this one. Your heart will sink just a little when they forego family movie night for a three-hour snapchat marathon.)
9. It’s magnetic north
On the same note, I like to think that when my kids become full-fledged teenagers and we are dealing with friendship dramas, SATs, sexting episodes, and Lord only knows what else (Dear parents of older teenagers: please refrain from telling me what else), weeknight dinners will be so firmly established as my family’s 6:30 Magnetic North, that my kids’ hormone-raging, eye-rolling, parent-resenting bodies will be hardwired to come home, sit down, and talk to me anyway. In other words, I will have them right where I want them.
10. It gives meaning to every day
When I was growing up, family dinner wasn’t even called family dinner. It was called dinner. The family part was a given. Somewhere between then and now, we all got busy. We got used to the convenience of takeout and prepared foods. We signed our kids up for activities that cut right into dinner hour. The economy got tough and we had to take two jobs or shifts that weren’t necessarily conducive to roasting a chicken.
We became used to the idea that since the office can reach us 24/7, that we should in fact be available 24/7. There are all kinds of legitimate reasons why eating with our kids isn’t a priority anymore. In spite of this entire post, I’m not here to judge anyone and the choices they make. Nor am I here to say that family dinner is the magic bullet, the answer to your prayers, or the only way to raise happy children. But I will say that it has done more to foster togetherness and impart meaning and joy into my family life on a daily basis than just about anything else I can think of.
For more of Jenny’s advice, inspiration, and menu plans, pick up a copy of Dinner: A Love Story or the New York Times bestselling Dinner: The Playbook, A 30-Day Plan for Mastering the Art of the Family Meal.
Featured Image: credit to Flickr/rubbermaid