The Family Dinner. It sounds like such a humble term on the surface. For some, it might even sound old fashioned or a thing of the past. With non-stop to do lists, work commitments, long commutes, evening activities, and just being overwhelmed by day to day obligations, the family dinner is something that is too often pushed aside. We eat on the go, in the car, at different times than the kids, or worse we rush ourselves or our families to hurry up and finish dinner so we can move to the next thing.
But the term has real power. Power to transform your family relationships and power to help your kids in some significant ways.
We get how hard this can be. Gathering a busy family around the dinner table is no easy feat. It takes patience. However, like most things in life worth doing, we think you will find the effort well worth it.
Why is the Family Dinner so important?
The research is significant. Family dinners around the table matter. Why? Here are a few compelling reasons:
- Stronger Family Bonds: teens that have family dinner together just a few times a week are more likely to have better relationships with their parents. Although that chit chat over the dinner table might seem insignificant, it really does matter. It is not the topic that counts, it is just showing up and listening.
- Better Performance in School: kids that have dinner with their families on a regular basis on average do better in school. They get better grades, better test scores, and have lower drop out rates.
- Healthier families: cooking dinner at home and eating meals at the table keeps take out and processed foods to a minimum. True, it does take a bit of effort but when you think of what is at stake, such as your health, it is hard to argue it is not worth it.
- Screen Free Time: having regular family dinners also gives you an opportunity to declare much needed “screen free” time. Have the kids (and parents) leave the phones when they come to the table for dinner. It might be met with some grumbles, but if you stick to it your family will get used to it and most likely will welcome the break.
Need some more inspiration?
We also came across this great infographic from Arhaus on the importance of family dinners at the table. You might consider downloading or printing this and posting on your fridge or some other prominent place as a daily reminder.
“One of the simplest and most effective ways for parents to be engaged in their teens lives is by having frequent family dinners,” says Joseph Califano Jr., chairman and president of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA).
If you are just getting started, start small. Aim to have family dinners just a few nights a week to start. Announce the days for family dinner in whatever way works for you-post it on fridge, on calendar, or send them a group text. Then just make it happen. And remember that it is not about fancy or complicated dinner recipes, it is about the company and the memories being made.