Family dinner, with everyone eating together around the table, is important to me. Some nights, though, it makes my life more difficult. You know the ones: no one likes what is being served, the baby is throwing the food, we have basketball practices and neighborhood meetings; everyone just has something better to do. But there is nothing better than eating dinner together as a family.
Eating dinner as a family is good for the body. Eating as a family promotes healthier eating. Home-cooked meals are typically healthier than fast food or restaurant meals, and children are often willing to try different foods when they see others close to them eating them. One of my son’s favorite foods happens to be salad. How many people can say that about their 17-month-old?
Eating dinner as a family is good for the brain. My son’s ability to manipulate a spoon and cup is incredible. He has been drinking from a regular cup (without a lid) since he was about 13 months and has been effectively using a spoon since 7 months. And think of all the language your baby is exposed to as you sit around the table discussing your day with your spouse, other children and the baby himself.
Eating dinner as a family is good for emotional health. For me, dinner time with my family is the one time of day where it is calm (most days). It can turn a sour day sweet by just having the quality time with my family, uninterrupted by emails, phone calls or text messages.
Eating dinner as a family is good for family bonding. Family dinner gives the whole family an opportunity to share what is going on at work, school or in their lives. It is a time where everyone feels love and acceptance.
I grew up in a family where meal time was important. We always gathered every night around the large oak table to eat dinner as a family, and to this day some of my best memories come from the time spent there. Because family meals aren’t just about food. They’re about all kinds of nourishment: physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual.