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  • Writer's pictureEileen Crawford

Pass the Peas, Please

For many, the traditional #familydinner is a relic from a '50s family sitcom. Not so fast....

Beaver and Wally always had some explaining to do to their parents, Ward and June. They dressed for dinner and June was never without her pearls.

Fast forward 55 years, and you might not recognize the scene at the Cleaver house.

It looks like Wally has to chow down fast so he can get into some trouble with Eddie Haskell. Sadly - or luckily in this case - there is no one else at the table as they are off at their own meetings, practices, and friends' houses.

Bring back the silverware!

The family dinner is much more than a quaint tradition. It is an essential #ritual with several benefits for #children.

While it can be tough to juggle sports practices, play rehearsals, violin lessons and dental appointments (yes, harkening back to pre-COVID schedules), setting aside a half hour each night when all the family members can gather together reaps unforeseen benefits. Now, in our slower pandemic pace, the time is right to bring back the family dinner, Did you know. . .

Family dinners build a sense of bonding and security for children.

It is important for children to know their family is a loving, secure unit. Family dinners are a way to regularly reinforce that. Children watch and listen to their siblings, and all of them watch and listen to you.

Shared meals are a great time for discussion of values, ideas and plans.

Adult children will remember what they experienced during #familytime. Dinners can be non-existent with everyone scattered, and they will remember how "we weren't really together as a family," Dinners can be fraught with anger and conflict, and that will be a defining memory too, or they can be used as a nice way to come together near day's end. Kids can share what was good, bad and just plain messy crazy about their day. There are lots of "ice breakers" you can use to start interesting conversations with kids. When they know you make time to give them your undivided attention, they will be much more likely to seek you out during other times of day.

If you want their undivided attention, you will need to model that by giving yours.

Family Dinners Provide Emotional, Social, Physical and Academic Benefits.

We learn from home how to behave when dining in public.

Family meals are the incubator for learning #manners: how to hold utensils properly, where to put your napkin, how to chew your food, how to not talk with your mouth full . . . you get the drill. This may not seem that important right now, but believe me, if you are at a dinner meeting where your boss slumps forward, elbows on the table, and slurps his soup, you will wish he had had a few more family dinners when he was younger.

Well-balanced meals teach nutrition and are healthier and less expensive than fast-food and dining out alternatives.

You will be able to teach children how to eat in a healthy way - how to manage their portions, not waste food, and balance the types of foods they eat. This is not automatic. We have to learn it!

The family dinner is good for grades!

Research has shown that the family dinner is good for language development for children, which makes sense since it provides dedicated interaction with older parents and siblings.

Additionally, kids who regularly enjoy sit-down meals with their family get better grades in school.

The final benefit of regular family dinners is for adults: They are fun, and you will be surprised at what you learn from your children.


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