Teens who had fewer than 3 family dinners a week were almost 4 times more likely to try tobacco and twice as likely to use alcohol. Do you require attendance at the family dinner table? If so, how often? And, if not meals, what regular tradition are you devoted to, that promotes your family togetherness?
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This is a good question for me, because I’m pretty non-traditional when it comes to dinner, ha ha! In most ways, I’m a pretty conservative mom – I think. But when it comes to cooking and eating at home – nope. My kids and I are always together for dinner, but sometimes they are the only ones eating. I might be driving (while they eat in the back seat), or putting their hair up (while they eat before swimming), or pumping up their bike tires (while they eat at the park). Other times, we all sit together and eat, but it might be at Subway, Panera, or Bob Evans. On Fridays, we go out with other grown-ups to a nice restaurant, and on Sundays, my sister comes and cooks and we all crowd around the kitchen table. So I guess you could say we’re all over the place.
But to me, the important thing is that we spend time together. We connect, communicate, and care for each other.
One thing we don’t have is a “father figure” at our table. Some people will say we’re going to pay for that eventually. Well, perfect is in Heaven. I had a dad there every evening – a nice one, too – and it didn’t make everything peaches and cream. Growing up is hard; raising daughters is hard. I’ll just keep doing the best I can with what I have.
I’m with SKL on this one. I don’t think it is (necessarily) the consumption of food at a specific time and/or place that is important. I think the jist of it is to have regular focused, dedicated time where the ENTIRE FAMILY can be together and interact in a calm, non-destracted manner.
But we all have dinner together each night. My Mrs. has a crazy schedule at times so she isn’t here some nights.
We have supper as a family, every night. The evenings and weekends are so busy for us. If we have a 2 hour practice (5:30-7:30) we eat at 4:30. If it’s an hour practice, we wait and eat when we get home.
I do think it’s an important time for us. We mostly talk about Bailey’s day at school. It’s sometimes the only time we can get his full, one on one attention. He’s such a busy kid! When we don’t have practice, he’s “hanging” with his friends. I know, the older he gets the more that will happen so taking that time out of our day is important for us and that will never ever change.
I agree with SKL and Michael that it’s not just about the eating and the food. Spending quiet time together each day is what’s the most important thing. It seems for us though, that time together when we ate just seemed to calm us all down and sitting and sharing a meal and together usually helped the conversation just flow. There were many times when our supper meal was the only time we really were together during the day. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s around a kitchen table either. There were many times we ate on route too in disposable plates or cups. It’s about the bonding and sharing things. I really love eating with people because it seems guards are down and most people relax when they eat and then the conversation seems more earnest.
I also didn’t “demand” that the boys were home for supper but it didn’t occur to me that they wouldn’t be. We just ate our evening meal together. Almost ALL THE TIME. It’s how we both were raised and to us, it’s the norm.