We are all busy with so many different things, but taking the time to eat dinner with family is truly important for so many reasons!
5 Reasons to Eat Dinner with Family
Growing up there is one thing that I could ALWAYS rely on. Dinner with family!
I grew up in a family of 8 with 1 brother and 4 sisters. There is one thing I can remember doing often together, that is having family dinner. No matter what was going on with sports, band, work or school we had dinner together at least four times a week.
A home-cooked meal around the table with your family is something special.
Here are 5 reasons that family dinners are important for your family.
Guaranteed Family Time
No matter who you ask there is always going to be a comment about how time goes by so quickly. Our children grow up in a flash and we don’t realize it until it has passed. There are often regrets about not spending enough time together.
Making dinner with family a priority is guaranteed family time! Everyone has to eat, so why not do it together? This family time gives you an opportunity to check in with each other. Ask questions about how the day went and what is on everyone’s mind. Be sure to ask your children questions that require more than a yes or no answer.
Even children who can be reluctant to talk will take this opportunity to share their day with you. These conversations can be teaching moments, discussions about otherwise awkward topics or just plain fun. This is also a great “no phone zone” for undivided attention!
Children Feel Safe
Family routines and traditions help children to feel a sense of safety and belonging. They will feel unified as a family. When they feel safe and unified it is the perfect place to be able to come for help and security.
Dinner with family can help reduce the possibility of high-risk behaviors like drug and alcohol abuse. When an adolescent feels safety and security at home it increases self-esteem. When they are secure in their self-esteem the risk of unhealthy behavior is reduced.
Dinner with family helps children get better grades. They have fewer symptoms of depression, especially adolescent girls. Having at least one nutritious meal a day, your children are less likely to become obese or develop eating disorders. We all want to keep our children safe. Dinner with family can be a great start to get them on that path!
It Teaches Gratitude
There have been many moments as a parent where I thought “Wow, how did my child not know that?” Well, it is because I did not teach them! Sometimes we think that children just know the appropriate way to act.
News flash, they don’t! They need to be taught.
Dinner with family is the perfect platform to teach gratitude. From a very early age, they can learn to thank the person who prepared the meal. You can talk about the farmers who grow the food. Mention the grocery store workers who help you buy the food and the parent who cooked it.
When they are old enough they can contribute, set the table, and help prepare the dinner. When they are involved in the process they can be even more grateful to those who make dinner happen.
Table manners feel like a thing of the past. Dinner with family can help children learn their please and thank yous. Learning that everyone needs to be seated before you start to eat is a valuable lesson in manners.
Gentlemen can be taught to wait for the ladies to sit before taking their seat. Even assisting those ladies with their chair like the good ol’ days. Keeping elbows off the table and wiping your mouth with a napkin may impress a potential marriage partner one day.
You can even make a special dinner and teach about fancy dishes and silverware. If you are a family that prays, dinner with family is a wonderful place to teach about prayer.
Cognitive and Social Development
Dinner with family is a great time to teach conversation. This is not only great for language skills but also development in children. Learning to socialize and have healthy conversation helps build brain function. You can help children learn new words and answer questions appropriately.
Learning to function in society happens in the home and dinner with family is a valuable tool. Conflict resolution can also be taught at dinner time. This builds a foundation for healthy relationships and learning to get along with others. Learning how to listen and engage in meaningful conversation can set your child up to be socially successful.
Now you know why family dinner is important, so let’s make it happen!
Eating as a family every night is probably a very lofty goal, so start with two dinners a week and see if you can work your way up. Pick nights that you know everyone will be there. Even if you are sitting down to dinner a little earlier, or even later than usual. You are making an effort to be together, that is what matters. Go get your calendar out and start planning your dinner with family time.
How do you make it a priority to have dinner with family?
Did this make you want to have dinner with family more often?
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Bridget is on of our interns currently finishing up a degree in Marriage and Family Studies. With 8 children and 1 grandchild, she strives to keep her family happy and healthy. She loves to read and if there is an opportunity for it, you will find her at the beach!