Growing up it was rare that my family and I didn’t have dinner together. In fact while I know on occasion due to sports or work commitments family dinners may not have happened, I recall this being so infrequent that I could probably count on a hand the times it did. During our meals my mom would always have a candle lit on the table and music or the news on in the background. We would talk about our various days at school and work and things going on in our lives. While I didn’t know it at the time as a child and teenager, I realize now that these meals together were building and strengthening us as individuals as well as a family unit.
I fully understand that everyone’s family and life structure is vastly different; and such meals cannot always happen even if the family wishes that they could. However for myself and family, it is something that we strive to do as often as we can. Sometimes our dinner isn’t ready when our kids is. On occasions such as that we still stay in the room with them either making our dinner nearby or sitting at the table, and always, always engaging in a family conversation.
Research has shown the science behind family meals. First, these meals strengthen communication between family members – something that as kids grow becomes even more important – especially in the teenage years. Second, having these conversations and dialogues without outside distractions helps build children’s vocabulary and self-esteem. Additionally research has found that these family times can help build children’s palettes and open their desire to try new foods. For more research and insight in favor of family meal time, check out these three great reads:
What I think is really important to note here is that while this isn’t always feasible for everyones family’s and lives, carving out some type of family time with no outside distractions is critical. Spending time as a family whenever possible and engaging in conversations (regardless if a meal is involved or not) will reap countless benefits for both parents and their children.
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