Hopefully, family dinner times are not a thing of the past. Regular dinners as a family will teach children the importance of that quality time together.
Today’s family lifestyles of longer work hours for moms and dads and excessive afterschool activities for children have given way to the drive-thru meals eaten in the car between one place and another. Significant conversation is minimal while eye contact is nil as many continue to live their lives on the go. The mandatory dinner presence so many of us experienced from our own childhood remains only a memory and rarely practiced as part of contemporary lifestyles.
Is the family dinner time old fashioned? Personally, I tend to think not. My eldest of four sons is away at grad school. Two other boys attend a local college and my youngest is in eighth grade. Needless to say, suppers quite often include only three out of the six of us. However, since my boys have grown up in a household where everyone was sitting at the kitchen table by 6pm when they were younger, they have come to value such gatherings when the opportunity comes about now that they are older and not around as much. In fact, there is an obvious contentment when we manage such a family dinner. It feels right, feels like home. As they anxiously dig into whatever the chow may be, someone will always comment, “Hey, we’re all together,” which brings a profound smile of acknowledgment by all before conversation is in full gear as everyone catches up with each other.
Finding time to eat as a family after chasing to dance class or basketball practice after school gives the family a chance to slow down and take a breather from a hectic afternoon. Consistent family dinnertimes will create a routine for children. Such stability is important for kids. Whether it is hot dogs, pizza, or filet mignon being served, the food on the table has no importance in comparison to the shared conversation about the school day, friends, work, etc. At the same time, an interest and concern for each other is naturally developed. We all wish our children to grow up with good family memories and values which can be passed down to their own children. And, it is the good memories which will turn a house into a home.