Friday, May 14, 2010

The Importance of Dinner

Dinner used to be a family event. Or at least that's what I'm told. My family sort of just ate in front of the television. But back in the day, gathering around a table was the norm, and not just relegated to holiday meals.

If I've learned one thing in the education classes I've taken, it's that the key to child development is family dinners. There have been stories on the research from ABC News, NPR, and other news outlets. I even seem to remember a Stouffer's commercial to this effect.

I had a professor for my Special Ed class who expounded upon this subject. She said that she was having a tough go of it while her kids were in high school. Her husband development serious psychological issues, she was having financial problems, and the stress was really getting to her. But every day, she put food on the table at night, even if it was just peanut butter and jelly, because she knew how important it was to her children's development. She was (is) convinced that having food on the table helped her to maintain some normalcy, and led to meaningful conversations with her children. It would have been very easy to get wrapped up in the stress of life and forget about her children. Feeling neglected, they would have found acceptance and companionship elsewhere, which could involve drugs or worse.

I'm slowly building a list (mentally for the moment, but in writing at some point) of things I want to remember for when I have kids. Dinner time is definitely one. Family home evening is another. Library day is a third. What kind of things are must-haves for raising your families?


  1. Dinner definitely makes all the difference. I grew up with a dinner-eating family and I can see the ways it blessed us. I really admire that my mom never got take-out or just gave up at dinnertime; if something went wrong, she always had a quick pantry meal that she could prepare. I'm slowly learning all the ways that she was amazing, and that's one of them.

    Going to church together was also really important to us growing up, and just Sunday in general. We didn't do a lot of things on Sunday like work and shopping and parties, so we always spent the whole day at home together (except church). By the evening, after our traditional weekly dinner of spaghetti, we were always slightly crazy and quite wound up, but some of my best memories come from those times. It really brought out our creativity to be together, just us.

    Also traditions, like the spaghetti on Sundays I mentioned above, or anything. I like traditions that aren't just once a year, but more often.

  2. I agree, family dinners are so very important. I can always tell when it has been too long since we ate together at the table - work and sports schedules keep us busy many times. Tempers get short, conversation lags, everyone is frustrated. Once we pull back to eating together everything gets back to normal.

    I think tucking your kids in at night is one of the most important things you can do. Sometimes it is just a quick hug and kiss, a sweet dreams and I love you. Other times I climb into bed with them and talk about whatever they want to talk about. Sometimes I read them a book (even my 11 year old son still likes to be read to). This is when I find out about what is going wrong at school, what they are worried about, what I done that upset them, what their dreams are, what they want to do the next day. For me, this is a non-negotiable. If I am not home when they go to bed the first thing I do when I get home is drop by their rooms and give them a kiss.