Family Dinner

Family Dinner

By Dianne Wood

Dianne is happily married and the mother of 8 children. She is currently home full time. She writes for a few magazines, is working on a book and runs a girls club. Dianne holds a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science. She has kindly given permission to reprint this article.

It is at the family dinner table where most of the important parenting takes place. But with our hectic schedules how often these days does the family meal take place. It is up to the parents to make sure it happens and to schedule it in each day. It is a dying art that must be revived in our culture.

It is at the dinner table where relationships are realigned, the news of the day is exchanged, coming events are discussed and memories are made for both adults and children. One day, your child will look back on all those dinners around the family table with fondness. They will pass on what you have taught them through the family meal to their children.

The family meal brings the family together. When families get together at dinner time they share more than just a meal – they share what’s been going on in their daily lives. Family meals promote conversation, the sharing of ideas, and a sense of belonging. Dinner time conversation is an important socialisation process for children where they talk about their activities, and parents share their lives and issues. Discussing the day’s activities, listening to one another, and turning off the television while eating are all important to family meal time.

The family meal is an educational experience. Manners are learned at the dinner table. When dishes are passed, the words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are used. Children first learn to serve others at the dinner table as the food is patiently passed to each other and the younger ones are helped. Parents should plan the dinner time conversation so that they can teach their children important things they need for life. They can also share family history with their children and teach them about their culture during the family meal.

A meal scheduled at regular times provides children with a sense of stability. A regular mealtime is something people can count on, and that’s important for both youngsters and adults. The family meal is a special symbolic way of saying “I love you.”

Eating dinner as a family also provides nutritional benefits for busy families. For parents who worry that their kids are not eating right, regular meal times offer a chance to prepare a variety of healthy dishes, many of which are quick and easy. Casseroles, mixed dishes or crock pot meals, grilled or broiled meats, microwaved vegetables, and fruits or salads don’t take much time.

Let your children help out. Younger children who are not quite old enough for food preparation can be given other jobs, such as setting the table and cleaning up. Older children can prepare part or all of the meal. Helping with the meals gives our children important life skills that they need for growing up.

Make time for family meals, and not just on special occasions. Make it a fun time where the family comes together in peace and harmony, not a time for arguing and discipline. Make it a place where each member finds rest and realises the importance of being a member of a family. Make it a memory they want to pass on.

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