As a child, it was a rare occurrence that our family didn’t eat supper together at the table. Over the past twenty-five years, that dynamic has shifted. Families are often going in different directions, stopping to eat fast food and quick-grab meals. When my husband and I met, that was something that we both felt needed to return to our way of life. Nearly 14 years strong, we make cooking together and enjoying meals a priority!
My teenage boys have been to friends’ houses who never sit down at the table together. The lack of family engagement has sadly become normal for many families. Priorities have shifted and careers/making money have taken precedence due to the need for (at least) two incomes per household. In the process, the family dinner dynamic has been lost.
1| Conversations can easily flow.
Communication is critical for any relationship to thrive. According to Marriage.com, lack of communication is one of the top reasons for divorce. We all know that a divorce affects more than just a couple — it affects our children, too. Family dinners are the perfect way to engage active communication. Our family has a no-technology rule at our table, meaning no cell phones, tablets, or answering any other types of calls.
The rise of anxiety, depression, and suicide for teenagers breaks my heart because I truly believe that communication is a big aspect that is missing in these situations. Talking to your children about their daily lives and activities is vital. The best time to do this is at the dinner table!
2| Save money!
The COVID-19 Pandemic has taught us that eating at home saves a ton of money. An average meal out for our family of four is $50-$60 — that’s approximately $12 to $15 per person! By purchasing groceries and preparing meals at home, our per meal average per person is $3-$4. The money saved can be used for family activities, vacations, and more!
3| Develop manners and respect
Early development of good table manners will make a tremendous difference in your child’s life. Where better to teach these manners than at a family dinner? Children often mimic what they see. Expressing gratitude, eating small bites, properly using utensils, chewing with their mouths closed, good posture, etc. are all lifelong habits that you can use this time for!
Healthy eating is important for growth, our immune systems, and weight management. Discuss the choices of food that are on the table as well as their nutritional content. Teach your children that a good balance is a healthy balance. It’s easy to grab the junk food when we’re eating alone; but when we prepare and enjoy meals together, we feel the responsibility of providing food that improves our healthy and energy levels. For example, a perfect low-carb option is our Pulled Pork Lettuce Wraps!
5| Lifelong Bonds
Family dinners bring people together and form lifelong bonds when enjoyed on a regular basis. Even as your children grow into adults and begin their own families, the bonds they develop will remain strong with regular family dinners. It creates a safe environment through which children learn who they can count on. Family dinners are the perfect place to teach how valuable each person is within a family unit!
Make Family Dinners a Regular Event!
Family dinners may have slipped away or potentially never been a regular part of your routine. But the good news is that it’s never too late to start! Like any other habit, it takes practice. You might hear grumbles and groans from kids (especially teens!); but I promise that the benefits will be worth it. My teens have thanked me numerous times for preparing their favorite meals, allowing them to help with the cooking, and for the focused time!