Reconnecting At the Dinner Table
Most families in the United States eat dinner together only four times a week. Additionally, only ten percent of families eat together twice a week. Parents are giving into the ease of fast food and letting their children loose to watch TV or play video games. These parental behaviors can start when the children are young, right when they benefit from family dinners the most. This issue only gets worse as the children develop into busier teenagers.
Connecting During Dinner
Studies show that families who eat dinner together benefit in a variety of ways. Mealtime provides the opportunity for a family to bond, connect and learn from one another. It’s a chance to share information and news from the day which proves to be a unifying experience for all. Studies also show that children typically do better in school and are better adjusted as teens by having this scheduled time to connect with their family.
Oprah’s Family Dinner Experiment
A “Family Dinner Experiment” conducted by Oprah Winfrey in 1993 challenged five families to eat dinner together every night for a month for at least a half an hour. At first the families found it difficult, but by the end of the study they wanted to continue eating dinner together. The biggest surprise for the parents was “how much their children treasured the dependable time with their parents at the table.”
Prioritize Family Dinners
So how do we reconnect at the dinner table? Perhaps we should not see eating together as another appointment on a busy calendar, but rather as an opportunity to de-stress from the day. It’s a time to catch up with those we love and reenergize our family. One of the most valuable gifts we can give our kids is to be truly present in the moment. Sitting together for meals is a time to put everything else on hold and focus on what’s most important.
It’s not about having time in today’s busy world, it’s about making time! To make it easier on both parents, divide the tasks of preparing the food, serving and washing the dishes. Have your children help plan the menu for the week and even help with the shopping. Letting them play an active role with the family dinner will add even more value to the importance of eating together as a family.