(Written by Katherine Brown) Think you’re too busy to have dinner together as a family? You should never be. No matter what else you have going on, nothing is more important than eating as a family. Everyone benefits when you do, especially your children. Why? Here are some important reasons to consider.
- Relaxing and Unwinding
Everyone in the family has a busy day and a packed schedule. Kids have school, activities, and homework. Parents have work and errands. You’re always on the go, and sometimes it’s hard to just sit down and take a break. The family dinner can be a time for everyone to slow down and eat without rushing or worrying about what has to be done next. It’s a time for everyone to come together and let nothing else get in the way – just eating and bonding.
Family dinners improve the communication of everyone in the family. It’s particularly important for parents and kids. At dinner, they can talk about anything at all, from what’s going on at school to what’s bothering them, and you can listen and engage them in conversation. Especially as your kids get older, this small talk is so important. If you want your children to feel they can talk to you, it’s a good idea to practice every day while eating dinner together. This will help improve your children’s communication skills in general with everyone they talk to.
- Eating Habits
Eating dinner at the table is healthier for everyone, and families tend to eat meals that are better for them when they’re not on the run. A great thing that family dinner does is model good eating habits for your children. When you expose them to foods that you’re eating, rather than only preparing what they like, you’re opening their palates to new tastes. You’re also demonstrating how important it is to eat slowly and what correct portion sizes look like.
- Table Manners
When your children attend a fancy dinner, how do they act? Do they have good table manners? If you eat together as a family regularly they will. At family dinners you can teach them proper table manners, like keeping elbows off the table, asking for food to be passed, and not talking with their mouths full. When you have family dinners, your children will be much better-behaved when you eat out at restaurants or attend events for special occasions. The table manners they learn now will also carry over into their adulthood, so it’s important to start practicing at a young age.
- A Look at the Statistics
If you need further convincing, there are some solid numbers that are based off many scientific studies on family dinners. Kids who seldom eat family dinners are three times more likely to try marijuana, two-and-a-half times more likely to smoke cigarettes, and one-and-a-half times more likely to begin drinking alcohol in their teenage years. They’re also more likely to be overweight, and they’re more likely to have poorer grades in school.