While browsing the internet recently, I came across a website that was promoting what they called “Family Day – A day to eat dinner with your kids”. This got me thinking- Is it really out of the ordinary to have dinner with your children? Are we really that busy, too busy to have dinner with our children? If we are for any reason then today’s modern lifestyle is plummeting us to a very sad sad state of affairs.
Family dinners is always something I took for granted as a child and even now as a parent I have often overlooked it as an obvious sequential follow on to the day. As soon as the clock hits 6 o’clock my focus veers to rushing home to have supper with the family. All of us together at least once a day because most mornings are rushed and hectic.
As a child one time of the day that I always looked forward to was 7:30 to 8pm dinner time with the whole family at the dining table. Usually my sisters and I helped lay the table before mum made the final inspection to make sure that everything was laid out just right. Mum would then give the go ahead for the food to be brought out and laid out on the runner ready to serve. (This was just about the time I would feign exhaustion and curl up in an armchair so that when the call for dinner came I would have to be carried to the table) I would be set to sit at my place at the table but sometimes if I wanted to be spoon fed i’d pretend to be dozing off so mum would have to feed me!
Anyhow, the important thing was that we were all sitting together at the table as a family. I always wondered why my parents put up with the pretend “sleepy child” act but now I feel that I understand their sentiment perfectly. Perhaps now more than ever, with all the hassle of modern living I understand the appeal and value of a family being together.
A study done at the Columbia University Centre on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) in America showed that kids who ate five meals a week with their families are:
• 45 percent less likely to drink and 66 percent less likely to do drugs
• More likely to get A’s and B’s in school
• More likely to think their parents are proud of them
The more important statistic here is not that the children get good grades at school, but the sense of belonging and self esteem the children acquire as a direct result of the attention they get from their parents that makes them feel that the parents are proud of them. As a result, they are less likely to seek affirmation from bad groups, alcohol or drugs.
The family meal times are an opportunity to talk, be heard and show you are interested in each other as members of one family. When you take time to connect and bond with your children, they feel wanted and loved.
“The power of the family dinner comes not from the food on the plate but from who’s at the table and what’s happening there. The emotional and social benefits that come from family dinners are priceless. Having dinner as a family is one of the easiest ways to create routine opportunities for parental engagement and communication”- Kathleen Ferrigno, CASA’s Director of Marketing