Television sitcoms of the 50’s and 60’s usually had a scene with the family at the dinner table. This scene, usually at the end, was a time for the family to talk, laugh – in short, communicate. Research supports the value of family dinnertime for improved grades and less destructive teen behavior. These are only two of the reasons your family should spend dinnertime eating as a family, at a table.
Improve Communication Skills
When you sit around the dinner table, conversation ensues. You and your children will talk more – about school, their lives, your work – you will probably be surprised at some of the conversations you have. These conversations foster feelings of security and love, making it much more likely for your children to communicate serious problems when they occur. Additionally, your children will learn the art of conversation: how to verbalize their thoughts and feelings, not interrupting and waiting their turn, and appropriately responding to the comments of others.
Meals prepared at home can be healthier. Make an effort to have meals contain plenty of fruits, vegetables, and protein. Stay away from fried food, high sodium content, and provide water or milk as a beverage. Research shows children are less likely to become obese when the emphasis at home is on good nutrition.
Teach Table Manners
There will be times in the future when your children need to display appropriate table manners. My eldest son actually got a job because he displayed excellent table manners and meal etiquette at a dinner interview. Initially, you may be appalled by your children’s lack of social skills. Don’t berate, but take one thing at a time, keeping the mood light, relaxed, and loving, leading by example.
Having as set mealtime and helping with preparation and clean-up help build responsible behavior. A set mealtime also gives a check-in time, convenient when those teen years arrive.
Our dinnertime was 6:30 and everyone had to be at the table. Our teens would go through a stage where they did not want to be there and they would say they were not hungry. Eating was an option, but being there was not.
I remembered being the only one in my college peer group able to cook a turkey and the dinners I cooked when parents provided a turkey during the holidays. So, my children – including my two sons – all knew how to cook a turkey before they went to college. Youngest son never could figure out which side was the breast and invariably cooked it upside down, which made for juicy white breast meat!
Meals prepared at home can cut your food budget in half. You can make many of the “fast foods” your family loves at home. Have a make-your-own pizza night. Set up a salad bar. Provide rolls, sliced deli meats, cheese, and condiments for sub sandwiches. Grill burgers or hot dogs. Have a stuffed baked potato night. The list is endless.
To encourage you and your family, keep track of how much you save eating at home and bank the savings for a family vacation. You will be surprised how quickly your vacation fund builds up.
Turn off the T.V., leave the cell phones in another room, and get your family to the dinner table. It may be difficult to accomplish every night what with ball games, homework, and after school activities. However, setting aside time at least three nights each week to eat together will strengthen your family, as well as the lives of each individual, and create memories that will last a lifetime.