Five Tips For Creating A Practice Of Family Dinner

Five Tips For Creating A Practice Of Family Dinner

When’s the last time you had dinner with your family? I don’t mean when’s the last time you all sat on the couch watching TV or playing video games and eating dinner at the same time, but rather, I’m referring to the old school tradition of setting the dining room table with plates, cups and silverware. Everyone sits together and there’s no screens or devices to be seen? You know… family dinner?

Yeah.. it’s been a while since many of us have shared a meal with the family outside of Thanksgiving or Christmas meals. But if you have a family, it’s a tradition worth saving. Our world is so fast-paced and anything considered traditional is now bad.

But there is nothing wrong with forcing your family to sit together for 30 minutes or an hour, without interruption from games and phones (that includes work calls after hours), making eye contact with each other and purposely discussing your day.

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Family Dinner Strengthens Bonds

In fact, there’s scientific proof that family dinner can benefit family members in several different ways. One of the most significant benefits of family dinner is the opportunity it provides for families to connect and communicate with each other. Studies have shown that families who eat together on a regular basis are more likely to have open and honest communication, stronger relationships, and a better understanding of each other’s lives.

A study conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that children who have regular family dinners are less likely to engage in risky behaviors such as drug and alcohol use. They also have better grades and are more likely to have positive relationships with their peers.

The Benefit of Family Mealtime

Family Dinner Improves Teen’s Well-Being

Another benefit of family dinner is its positive impact on children’s mental health. According to a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, teenagers who have regular family dinners are less likely to experience depression or anxiety.

The study found that family dinner provided a sense of stability and security for teenagers, which helped to reduce their stress levels and improve their mental well-being. The study also found that the benefits of family dinner extended beyond the meal itself, with teenagers reporting feeling more connected to their families throughout the day.

Family Dinners Promote Healthy Eating

In addition to the social and emotional benefits of family dinner, there are also numerous physical health benefits. Studies have shown that families who eat together are more likely to eat healthier meals, with more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and less junk food and sugary drinks.

A study conducted by the University of Minnesota found that children who have regular family dinners are less likely to be overweight or obese. The study also found that family dinner provided an opportunity for parents to model healthy eating habits for their children, which helped to promote a healthy lifestyle.

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This generation is one of the last generations that may remember what a “family dinner” is, and if it’s something you think fondly of, you might want to teach the tradition to your children. And if you’re a couple only, use the time to eat mindfully, give each other your undivided attention and really connect.

It just might be the one time a day that you do it.

The Tradition of Family Meal Time

Five Tips For Starting (Or Re-Starting Family Dinner) Today

  1. Set a time for dinner. Demand that everyone sit for the entire time unless they ask to be excused.
  2. Have a formal beginning to the meal, i.e. a blessing for the dinner, a moment of gratitude or simply thanking the cook for preparing the meal.
  3. Strictly enforce a no-device rule during meal time. This means no open laptops on the table or chair, no cell phones in view of the diners and no TVs on in the background.
  4. Have everyone (including children) discuss their day. Ask questions. Get interested. Be engaged.
  5. Formally end the meal and have everyone leave at the same time.

After not eating together for a while, you might be amazed how resistant some members of the family might be to these guidelines, however, persistence and consistency rule the day.

Start with one meal a week (maybe Sunday dinner?), pizza on Friday’s or whatever works for your family. The most important thing is to just get started and expand the number of days you’re eating together until you’re happy with your family’s meal time.

For more resources and tips on how to make family dinner a success, visit The Family Dinner Project.

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