Photo courtesy: chawalitpix
They say the kitchen is the heart of the home, but have you ever thought about how the dining room table is the family communication power center? That is, unless your family’s dining room table is treated more like a pit stop in a bus station with family coming and going as they go about their own day-to-day business.
A good friend of mine came to visit us recently, and she was telling me that her daughter’s pediatrician asks at every well-child visit if the family eats dinner together. Her doctor knows that strong families eat dinner together and many studies show that a child’s future success is in many ways linked to the simple act of sharing a meal as a family.
In an effort to encourage families to eat dinner together, University of Columbia’s National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) is continuing its decade-long, national initiative of Family Day on September 26. According to CASA, children who grow up eating dinner with their families are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and smoke cigarettes. Children and teens are also more likely to perform better in school, eat more nutritious meals and are more well-adjusted socially. Why? Because the act of sharing a daily meal invites conversation and an opportunity for togetherness. Children thrive on the dependability of a routine dinner hour. It’s a positive way to connect with our loved ones after a busy day of school and work and listen to each other.
So, dust off that dining room table. Make a conscious effort to plan dinner time around your week’s events. Make meals ahead or pick up take-out one night if that’s easier. Put the car in park, turn off the television, the cell phone and the video games; put aside the newspaper and the homework and gather around. Focus on each other for at least 15 minutes while enjoying a wholesome meal and family interaction, whether it’s sharing stories, telling jokes or relaying news.
Today’s modern family is flying around in a hundred different directions on any given day. How about striving for a scheduled layover for at least a handful of those nights to meet at the dining room table and tap into the communication powerhouse of the family home.