Home > Mom's Life > Family Relationships > Making Family Time > Family Dinners: The Recipe for Connectedness
|

Family Dinners: The Recipe for Connectedness

Getting Together for Dinner
Family dinners? Who's got the time? Only one third of U.S. families eat dinner together most nights. The time-honored, slow-paced family dinner of past generations now looks more like a frantic pit stop, where family members simply refuel before beginning their evening activities. But consider this: Sitting down at the table together is still one of the best ways for families to grow and stay connected.

Making family dinners a priority is not easy, but the long-term benefits are well worth the effort. The family dinner offers a natural forum that fosters togetherness. It can give all family members a chance to share their lives and to receive encouragement and support. Regular family meals also provide children with a much-needed safe haven of stability in a world that is often confusing and frightening.

Here are nine tips to help you get the most out of your family dinner:

  1. Don't feel guilty if family dinners are not a daily event. Start with what's possible at the moment, naturally transitioning toward eating together several times per week.

  2. Family discussions need not begin and end while seated at the dinner table. Family members, including even young children, may begin communicating while helping to prepare the meal and setting the table. Mealtime conversations may continue as the family clears the table and does the dishes.

  3. The family dinner should be a relaxing, pleasurable occasion. Unpleasant topics, negative criticism, and passing judgment are not appropriate dinner conversation.

  4. Always involve your kids in the dinner discourse. Their participation will not only make them feel more valued; it will also expose them to new language and ideas. The art of conversation and learning how to take turns speaking are important social skills for everyday life.

  5. Specific questions to children (for example, "How many nibbles did you get on your line when you and Dad went fishing Saturday?") are more likely to trigger conversation than general questions. ("How was your day today?")

  6. Laughter is the best dinnertime music.

  7. Family dinners don't always have to be evening events. They also can be weekday or weekend breakfasts or lunches. What's most important is communicating the importance and desirability of these family meals.

  8. Change the family dinner location sometimes. How about an afternoon picnic, dinner under the stars, or Saturday breakfast in your child's room?

  9. Turn off the TV and radio. Unplug the phone or put on the answering machine. Don't let interruptions spoil this special time.

Having more family dinners may initially be met with some resistance, especially if they are not a regular part of your household schedule. In time, however, the pleasure and security they are guarenteed to provide will have everyone looking forward to coming to the table.

Read Carleton Kendrick's bio.

|


highlights

Vote Now for the Children's & Teen Choice Book Awards
Voting is open now through May 3 for the Children's and Teen Choice Book Awards — the only national book awards program where the winning author, illustrator, and books of the year are selected by young readers. Encourage your child to vote for his favorites today!

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

Top 10 Math & Science Apps for Your Whiz Kid
Looking for the best math and science apps for kids? Check out these cool apps for all ages, which will grow your child's love of the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Wondering what to do now that you've signed your child up for kindergarten? Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks