Wednesday, June 3, 2015

This Simple Habit Can Help Your Daughters and Sons Thrive

“Growing up, I learned life’s important lessons at the dinner table.”          - Chef John Besh

When my kids were little, my husband and I made a point of sitting down to dinner as a family every evening.  One time, my husband had to work later than usual and missed dinner.  My sons were upset that he wasn’t there!  Only then did I realize how much our kids treasured that time together.

When was the last time you had dinner with your family? It is the meal we often skip because we work late, the kids have sporting events, or we get tired from daily activities. But, regularly missing these meals with the family can be detrimental to the family dynamic.  Family dinners are more than just a meal.

Why is dinner so important?  For one thing, it is a time to reconnect and share our thoughts and feelings. All day, our children are influenced by teachers, friends and others in the outside world. At the dinner table, our children get a chance to connect with their parents and siblings on tough issues like schoolwork, peer pressure, trouble with friends and more. Equally important, meal time is a time to relax and share a story about your day or discuss something new you’ve learned.

Family meals are a great place for learning social skills, manners, and how to have pleasant conversations.  Young children learn how to communicate with their siblings and parents. They are pleased to be the center of attention with questions about their day.  Most kids love to be in the limelight when they are a certain age and this helps them learn to share the spot with others.

We are often worried about our kids and the dangers the world can bring into their lives.  Of all the things we can do to help our kids avoid bad influences, sharing regular meals together is important.  Studies show frequent family meals have been associated with more positive relationships with peers and fewer depressive symptoms.  Teens who participate in family dinners seem to be less likely to get involved in drugs, alcohol or engage in other high risk behaviors. Studies have also shown that regularly sharing family meals contribute to higher grades and improved vocabulary and reading skills in children.

What are you waiting for?  Renew your commitment and make the time to connect as a family over the dinner table.  You’ll enjoy the food and re-connecting, and help your kids grow in many beneficial ways.

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  1. I was blessed to have this family ritual growing up. To this day, whenever I am in town, dinner is the meal we all make a point to be present for.

  2. Thanks for sharing, Kim. We feel the same way not only with our kids, but also with our extended family when traveling to visit them.