Many families struggle to find the time and energy for family dinners, but they’re important interactions. Family dinners are a great way to talk about everything from finances to kids’ grades or what’s going on in their lives. They give parents an opportunity to spend quality time with their children without worrying about all the other demands of life. However, many parents worry that it will be impossible for them put together something beautiful every night. Fortunately, there are ways you can make each dinner feel special while still fitting into your busy schedule.’
“Creating a family culture” is the process of creating positive interactions and memories. It’s important to create a family culture because it can help with family bonding and make your family stronger. Read more in detail here: creating a family culture.
“All great change in America starts at the dinner table,” President Ronald Reagan said in his farewell speech to the country. So I’m hoping the discussion starts tomorrow night in the kitchen.”
Reagan was a big believer in the importance of family meals, but this is a practice that transcends political parties.
President Barack Obama has made family supper a near-unbreakable component of his daily routine. Whatever else is going on, he takes a break from work at 6:30 p.m. to have dinner with Michelle and their girls. He has a strong rule of not missing more than two meals every week. Even among previous family-oriented presidents, this commitment is exceptional, and it occasionally gets in the way of diplomatic outreach and political back-slapping. He has said, “Sometimes not doing the circuit and going out to meals with people is regarded as us being hip.” “It’s more to do with the fact that we’re parents.” Because his children are still young, keeping up with them on a daily basis is a top priority.
If the President of the United States has time for a nightly family supper, so do you. Here’s why you should prioritize family meals as well, and how to make the most of the daily ritual of breaking bread with your loved ones.
The True Value of Family Dinners
Regular family meals have been a popular issue in the worlds of sociology and family studies, and you’ve undoubtedly read a lot of articles praising its advantages in the previous few years. Family meals have been claimed to reduce everything from obesity to your children’s chances of adolescent pregnancy, criminality, and drug use. It felt as though family meals were a magic bullet for keeping your kids from becoming slackers, and that failing to dine together on a regular basis almost guaranteed your child a life on the streets.
When researchers looked at the alleged advantages of family meals more closely, they discovered that many of them might be attributed to correlation rather than causality. That is, parents with a good marriage, stronger connections with their children, and more rules in place for them were more likely to have family meals and have well-adjusted children. This impact may be attributed to these other circumstances rather than the meals themselves.
While family meals alone will not prevent your children from becoming cigarette smoking, adolescent mom juvies, the ritual may be a significant element of a set of family behaviors, rituals, and practices that help to a child’s general well-being, according to the study’s authors. A large decrease in teenage depression was one evident advantage of family meals that they discovered held up even after adjusting for the other variables.
Consider family meals as an additional tool in your quest to create a strong family culture. The opportunity they give for your family to slow down, gather together face-to-face, discuss without interruptions, solidify your values, develop a sense of support, and form loving relationships is the true advantage they bring. These advantages accrue to families that not only endeavor to eat supper (or another meal) together on a regular basis, but who also approach these opportunities to break bread with purpose. Here’s how to do it.
How to Make the Most of Mealtimes with the Family
Make an effort to be consistent. Make supper with the family a sacred tradition. Schedule your work and activities around this immovable block whenever possible. High-powered CEOs will sometimes come home from work, have supper with their families, and then return to work later. They do all they can to avoid missing it.
Prioritizing family meals is beneficial because it gives you a target to aim towards. It’s tempting to justify staying to work if you know your wife and kids won’t be sitting down together and will have to fend for themselves. It’s simpler to break away from what you’re doing and hurry home if you’re expected to be at the table.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you have to miss a family meal now and again. Children who eat supper with their family at least three times a week get the advantages of family meals, according to research. So just try to stick to it as much as possible.
It isn’t necessary for it to be supper. Today’s schedules make it difficult for many families to bring everyone home for supper. Dad or Mom works late, one child has soccer practice at 6 p.m., and the other child has a piano performance at 7 p.m. on the opposite side of town. As the children get older, the situation simply worsens. Due to sports, job, or student government, I was seldom home for family supper while I was in high school.
The remedy is often a much-needed schedule simplicity, but it’s not always easy to get everyone to the table by 6:00 p.m. As a result, many families just abandon the concept of sharing a meal on a regular basis.
However, research reveals that there’s nothing special about breaking bread as a family at dinnertime when it comes to the health advantages. It’s just as healthy to have other meals with your family – breakfast, lunch, and even dessert! The important thing is that you spend time together as a family on a regular basis (food helps in this by adding a level of comfort, texture, and enjoyment).
Maybe your family is chaotic in the nights, but not so much in the mornings. Make breakfast with the family a priority. Mornings and evenings are awful, but just before night, things are quite cool. Make time for a family pre-bedtime snack. It may be cookies and milk, or you could make some coconut blueberry balls if you’re following a paleo diet. What matters is that you spend time with your family on a regular basis for meaningful dialogue and bonding.
Instead of focusing about how to make the most of family dinnertime, consider how to make the most of family mealtime.
Involve your children in the preparation of the dinner. Cooking is something that children like doing. Allowing them to do so would help them develop a greater appreciation for food as well as teach them a key self-reliance skill that will come in useful once they are on their own. It also allows you to begin conversing with your children before you sit down at the table.
Takeout (or eating away) is acceptable on occasion. Home cooking is great for health and financial reasons, but there will always be instances when you or your wife don’t have time to prepare a meal from scratch. That’s OK; the most important thing is that you take the time to sit down together. Getting takeout or going to a restaurant may be more relaxing for everyone, and the latter is especially enjoyable for the kids.
There will be no television, smartphones, or iPads. The goal of family mealtimes is to improve the link between family members. You can’t do it if everyone is hooked to their phone or if everyone is quietly watching at the TV. Make it an unbreakable rule that no electronic gadgets are allowed at the table.
In the background, play music. This is something we do at home from time to time. I attempt to teach Gus the sounds of the various instruments while we perform large band or classical melodies. I’ll put on some rock en espaol if we’re having Mexican cuisine – Maná and Juanes are two of our faves. If Kate is the DJ, the Guster channel on Pandora is often played. Some soft background music enhances the ambience and makes the event seem more unique and enjoyable.
Please say grace. Saying grace before a meal teaches your children about thankfulness and how fortunate they are to have food on their plates. It also teaches delayed gratification — youngsters find it difficult to wait even a minute before diving in! Saying grace also confirms your family’s religious identity if you’re religious. If your family is secular, you may start the lunch by having everyone walk around and discuss something they’re grateful for that occurred that day. You may also call it a “humanist elegance.”
Teach proper etiquette. Meals with your family are an excellent opportunity to teach your children proper table etiquette. It’s something you’ll have to repeat with the kids again and over, but instilling this practice in them will help them develop a respectful and polite mentality that will extend well beyond the dinner table.
The 10-50-1 Rule should be practiced. You must get your family chatting in order to get the most out of family mealtimes. And it’s not simply about whether the food is too hot (research shows that the majority of family dinner talk is about food quality!). Author Bruce Feiler reveals the 10-50-1 Rule, which he utilizes during family meal times, in his book The Secrets of Happy Families.
- Aim for 10 minutes of high-quality conversation. According to research, it’s roughly the amount of quality chat time that an average dinner provides, so it’s an excellent starting point. It may not seem like much, but a little amount each day on a consistent basis builds up over time.
- Allow your child to talk 50% of the time. Adults typically hold the floor for two-thirds of a 10-minute talk, according to research. Overhearing adult discussions has advantages for children, but you also want to hear what they have to say.
- Every meal, teach your children one new word. According to studies, children who eat meals with their families on a daily basis have greater vocabularies than children who do not. Regular family meals, on the other hand, will not miraculously teach children new words. Make it a point to be deliberate, like Bruce does. He teaches his children a new word every night at supper by playing various games. For example, he may say “fruit” and then ask everyone to come up with as many similar terms as they can. He’ll also bring a newspaper to the table and have everyone pick a term they’re unfamiliar with, attempt to figure out what it means, then debate it with the rest of the family.
Listen to my interview with Bruce Feiler on my podcast:
Get a nice discussion going. You’ll have to ask your kids questions if you want at least 10 minutes of excellent conversation at each meal, and you want them to do half of the talking. Kids may sometimes respond with one-word or non-answers, but keep attempting to elicit a response from other perspectives. “How was your day?” isn’t enough. Inquire about one item they learnt that day or the highlight of their day so far. Inquire whether they’ve seen or read anything fascinating recently. Bring up current events as kids become older and ask for their thoughts on them.
Discuss your family’s history. Children who know about their family’s past have a better feeling of control over their life, more self-esteem, and a deeper sense of connection to their families, according to psychologist Marshall Duke and his colleague Robyn Fivush. In fact, they found that a child’s ability to answer questions about their family history was the greatest single predictor of mental health and happiness.
- Do you know where your grandparents spent their childhood?
- Do you know what high school your parents attended?
- Do you have any idea where your parents first met?
- Do you have a family member who has suffered from an illness or experienced anything really dreadful?
- Do you recall what happened at your birth?
Duke and Fivush think that knowing a child’s unique family history gives them a strong “intergenerational self,” making them feel like they’re a part of something larger than themselves. Kids learn about family narratives that develop resilience when they hear tales of family hardships and achievements.
The oscillating narrative, according to Duke, is the most potent story for creating resilience in children. It’s essentially the tale of your family’s ups and downs, with the family always sticking together regardless of what transpired. Isn’t it uplifting and inspirational for a youngster going through a difficult time? Knowing that great-great-great grandpa managed to build a thriving business despite adversity and the deaths of family members along a wagon trail in the middle of nowhere can help a child understand that life will go on even if he doesn’t get into his first choice college can help a child understand that life will go on even if he doesn’t get into his first choice college. If Grandpa was able to flourish in the face of hardship, he can, too.
I hope to dedicate a few blogs to getting started with family history and genealogy, but for now, start talking to your kids about the family history you do know at the dinner table. If you’re stuck for ideas, start with Duke’s collection of questions for testing children’s knowledge of their family history.
Read the rest of the series here:
The Value of Developing a Family Culture How to Write a Family Mission Statement and Why The Value of Developing Family Traditions 60+ Family Traditions to Consider How to Hold a Weekly Family Meeting and Plan It How to Become the Transitional Character in Your Family
What tips do you have for making the most of family mealtimes? Let us know in the comments!
Watch This Video-
Family dinners are a great way to build and strengthen family relationships. The “family traditions for every month” is a book that will give you ideas on how to make your family dinner more enjoyable.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you create a positive family culture?
A: There is no single way to create a positive family culture. However, there are some things that you can do to help make it happen. One of these might include participating in activities that bring the family together, like watching movies or going on walks together. Another could be doing chores at home so everyone has an opportunity for involvement and responsibility.
What are 4 things family dinners promote?
A: Family dinners can promote a sense of belonging, intimacy, and change family dynamics. They also allow people to share memories as well as contribute to the household economy by providing food that they have cooked themselves.
What is a positive outcome of family mealtimes?
A: It is important to be present and engaged during family mealtimes. This will allow the family time to connect, talk about life events, and build a stronger bond in the future.
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