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Family Dinner: How important is it?

Obese Woman
Posted by Shelby Sanders on Monday, October 17, 2011

With today’s busy schedule, there is always somewhere you need to be or something you need to do. Everyone has a date book filled with appointments that need to be kept. Sometimes everything and everyone can be pushed aside – that includes family.

One thing that is often overlooked is family dinnertime. This is a time for families to come together for about an hour. This is a chance to stop the clock and focus on each other.

A few  years ago, dinnertime was a common event. Children were encouraged to go outside to play with a warning to be back in time for dinner. During this time, the family would meet around the table and share events of the day. Today while less common, family dinner is an effective tool to bring the family back together. A tool, if used correctly, could help bring some of the day’s issues to the forefront. Many issues that families face can be addressed simply by cooking dinner and taking time out for positive and healthy conversations during dinnertime.

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It is puzzling how no one wants to miss cheerleader practice or basketball practice, but missing dinnertime is easily done. Although most people that work has to set priorities in their job environment, they face unmovable obstacles when it comes to planning dinnertime. Parents should consider that effectively planning to eat meals together could be just as effective as planning in their workplace.

According to a Columbia University survey, teenagers who eat with their families at least five times a week are more likely to get better grades in school and much less likely to have substance abuse problems.

The family dinner allows time for assigning chores and responsibilities.  This helps children learn that being part of the family also means sharing the work. Tasks as simple as setting the table, pouring drinks, clearing plates and washing and putting away the dishes are things they can do to help. They can even take part in planning meals, shopping and cooking.  Helping cook gets the picky eater interested in foods they would not otherwise think about eating.

Family dinners are even more important as children get older.  Teens are growing up and peer groups are more common.  Keeping the lines of communication open while they make this during this period is important, and family meals give you a regular time to sit and talk about what’s going on with them.

Family dinner is more than eating; it is also about communication and maintaining family bonds. It is a way to get your kids to talk about what is on their mind. It is also a way to observe your child to see if there are any noticeable changes. If you are married, this is a time to enjoy one another and discuss their feelings, family planning and just spend a little quality time. There are several ways to start.

Setting a regular meal time will get everyone in the habit of meeting together. This may require a gradual process. Start with three nights a week for a while then add more nights gradually.

Deciding on how the meal will last, will give everyone a chance to make other plans before or after meal time. This way no one has to rush through their meal.

Eating meals at the table will cut down on distractions from a television, mp3 player or cell phone. The only competition will be conversations with each other.

Trying new foods is a way to open up the discussion from eating the same old meals over and over again. It could even be fun to try a new dish each week. This could result in different meal plans to be used in the future.

Lastly, letting everyone take a part during meal time could mean sharing details of the day, setting the table or just picking a topic for discussion.

There are many possibilities to having a successfully family mealtime. The only wrong thing would be not getting started!

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Family Dinner: How Important is it?