Lately, I have noticed a trend in family dining. The mom and dad talk with the adults or each other, the kids sit at the far end of the table and watch something on an iPad to keep quiet. I get why this would sometimes be tempting, especially if you’re meeting up with other adults you do not often see, or you need a few quiet minutes with your honey, but it worries me that many kids are being removed from family dialogue.
In my family, we ate dinner together at the table every night. When we went to restaurants as a family, it was a special treat and everyone was involved in the conversation. The few times I sat too far away from everyone else, I felt sad. I still have a memory of one huge family dinner, where I was the odd little girl out, staring at the piñatas, disconnected and sulking.
To this day, even in my childless family of two, we sit at the table and talk. The couch is not for food, it’s for zoning out. On the rare night where we don’t make it to the table together because of conflicting schedules, everything feels off. We didn’t have our time to catch up and tell our daily stories, our thirty minutes together to slow down time and not focus on anything else.
Even in my much bigger family, we gather around the table together every Sunday night, a reincarnation of my dad’s family’s Thursday night dinners from another era. The participants may vary from week to week, depending on who is in town and what is going on, but it happens, without fail, every Sunday night, and Alex and I are always sure to be there.
I do not claim that family dinners are the secret to being the perfect family. No such family exists. Likewise, I am sure I will also keep an iPad in my purse someday, just in case I need a few minutes of quiet. However, I contend that family dinners are worth the sacrifice of figuring out a way to get everyone together, children and adults alike.
What does family dinner look like for you? Does it happen all the time? Sometimes? Never? I won’t pretend to know what other people need, I just have a soft spot for family and tradition.
This post was inspired by a cool info graphic over at Full on Fit. Did you know that teenagers who eat dinner with their families regularly are much more emotionally healthy? Makes sense to me!