I was raised by a single mom. There are three of us, and at the time of my dad’s death our ages were 6, 3, and 9 months. My mom, who was a stay at home mom, was thrust back into the world of working pretty quickly. She had to balance raising three children, starting a new career, and even going back to school for her CMA training. There were times when we were the last kids to be picked up from daycare or were shuffled to a grandparent’s house because of late classes or long hours. However, my mom felt very strongly that a family dinner was important. Whenever she was home, even if she was exhausted from stretching herself too thin, my mom cooked us a dinner and we sat down together as a family.
These are the times, that looking back as a twenty-nine-year-old, really solidified our family unit. Having a family dinner is incredibly important, and sadly, it’s one of the trends that seems to be fleeting from the home life.
These are the top three reasons why you and your family should share a meal together:
- You are modeling Grace and Courtesy lessons
It’s no secret that your children are watching your every move. They copy what they see and it’s a parent’s responsibility to set a strong and positive example for their child. When you sit down to eat with your child you’re giving lessons on how to use a spoon, how to wipe our mouth, how to sit for a long period of time. You’re giving them the chance to practice the manners that can be so hard to learn. “Please may I have some more?” “Please pass the salt.” “May I be excused?” In the classroom, the teachers sit with the children for meals as well, to model similar grace and courtesy lessons. Having the repetition from home to school life instills these expectations for eating in public.
2. Monitoring what your child is eating
Mealtime can feel like a bit of a guessing game with what your child will or will not eat. Their tastes can seem to change like the drop of a hat! Eating together as a family helps you tap into those swings of likes and dislikes. It also can help your child try new things if they watch you eat it first.
3. Strengthening the family bond
Having a conversation at the end of the day can be so rewarding for your family. This is the time of the day where you can reconnect, discover your child’s thought process, and share your joys or frustrations. My friend, Lisa, and her family reconnect at dinner by saying what was their “rose,” “thorn,” and “bud” for the day. Your “rose” is the highest point of the day, something that made you feel happy, joyful, excited. It could be the finding of lost keys or scoring the goal at soccer shots. Your “thorn” is the low point of the day, something that challenged you or frustrated you. This could be locking yourself out of the house or spilling your lunch on the floor. The “bud” is what you are looking forward to the next day, what your goal is or what’s got you excited to wake up in the morning. This could be a sleepover with a friend, a special dinner planned, a new work in the classroom.
Evenings can be hard in a household; my mom is probably the expert on that with the three of us running around and driving her wild. However, taking the time to stop for a little while and reconnect over dinner is going to give you the chance to form strong bonds that will last all the way until your child is no longer so little, and maybe has their own family to have dinner with each night.