I grew up eating dinner by myself or with our helper. Because my mom and dad split up when I was 1 year old, mom had to work even late nights. Family meal times were some of the things I missed growing up. So I decided that when I have my own family, it is something I'd like to implement.
I've realized that it takes deliberate effort to have it consistently. It is a fight. I get pulled in 25 different directions. However, I made a decision to only be out 2 nights a week and spend the other nights at home. Tuesday nights, after dinner, I bring one of my kids out ('daddy-date' for my girl and 'guy time' for my boys).
It's easier to do it when you've made a decision way in advance as compared to making a decision at crunch time.
Consider the research findings from www.poweroffamilymeals.com.
- Children depend on their parents for the ABCs of good health. 71% say they get information about how to be healthy from their mother; 43% from their father.
- 19% of teens who have fewer than three family dinners per week report that there is a great deal of tension or stress between family members, compared to 7% of teens who have at least five family dinners per week.
- More mealtime at home was the single strongest factor in better achievement scores and fewer behavioral problems in children all ages. More meals at home also resulted in less obesity.
- Because feeding is the most basic animal form of caring, sharing meals is one of the most central family bonds.
- Through the mini lessons of table manners, children learn to share and think of others. By saying “please” and “thank you,” we recognize the humanity of our tablemate, acknowledging the fact that we both deserve respect.
- More than a decade of research by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University has found that the more often kids eat dinner with their families, the less like they are to smoke, drink or use drugs.