In today’s world, we are all hard pressed for time. Children have school to attend to, post which there are after school activities while parents are very busy with their jobs, businesses and other important activities. Many experts and psychologists have stressed the importance of having family dinner together.
It is said that parents who regularly eat their meals with the family, have happier and positive families. Sitting together and having your meals with your loved ones, is good for the mind, soul and body. Everyone who grew up in the late 70’s, 80’s and even early 90’s will fondly talk about their family meal times.
Family dinner time was a time of joy, sharing, understanding and even comforting each other. No matter how busy the day was, you still had the energy to have a good healthy meal and discuss the day’s events with the family.
Somehow today’s family dinner time has almost completely vanished. Children are so tired after their daily activities that they just want to finish their meals in front of the television. On the other hand, many parents are dual working parents, who reach home at different times and therefore do not get the opportunity to have family dinner together.
In reality, children who have regular meals with their families are less prone to anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, low self-esteem and many other things. The bonding at the family dinner table has many benefits, which help children live a more positive and joyful life.
Let us look at some important reasons as to why you should eat family dinner together –
Keep a family dinner time.
It is important to keep a family dinner time. Ensure that all family members are available at this time to have their meal. Encourage your children and other members of the family to try and finish their daily chores and activities and keep this time free.
Even if all the family members cannot make it, try and eat with the available family members, which will start a sense of bonding in the family. Ensure that the weekend family dinners are enjoyed by everyone. Make a commitment to sit, talk, enjoy the food and discuss things that are of interest to the entire family.
Plan the dinner menu for the family.
Make food exciting. Discuss the menu for the week taking into consideration everyone’s likes and dislikes. Keep the food choices healthy. Make the salads interesting with smiley faces or add a new spice and ask the children to guess it etc.
Assign each person tasks like laying the plates and food on the table, filling the jug of water, cutting a quick salad (your teenage daughter can do it) etc. Give age appropriate chores.
It is good to introduce new healthy foods for dinner. Help your children to smell, touch and taste the food. Tell them the benefits of these healthy foods and how these foods will help them look good. Usually children resist any new food atleast 7-10 times, before they actually start eating it.
So do not force your children but keep encouraging them to try and eat the new food. As they see you eat and enjoy the food, sooner or later they are bound to try it. It is a great way of making healthy food choices. Teenagers are more prone to eat fresh fruits and vegetables at the family dinner time than anywhere else, where they would likely go in for unhealthy options, like fast food and soft drinks.
Time to share and increase family bonding.
Always pray before you start your dinner giving thanks to God for providing the meal. You can ask your children, how their day was, what they liked most or what was bad in the day. If you have a regular family dinner, children will look forward to these times to share all their joys and concerns.
Whenever anyone has any issues or concerns, then they can ask for advice or opinions to solve their problems. If there is nothing, you can just share some good value building stories or humour stories of your childhood. Tell stories about yourself or any other family member, when they were of the same age as your children. Tell them the good and the bad ones, which will help them to learn and take wise decisions.
Psychologists have suggested that family dinners are a great way of teaching your children moral and ethical values. This builds their emotional maturity as they are taught in love and in a fun manner.
Moreover this is also a great place to build conversation on tough topics like sex education, drug substance abuse, law violations etc. You can tell your teenagers the long term adverse impacts of any wrong decision in a casual way. Allow each person to talk and you will find that children eagerly await their turn.
Children are more likely to ask you questions and this will help them stay away from wrong things. The comfortable dinner time can be used to answer some difficult questions and then the conversations can be carried on post dinner as well. These discussions will help you safeguard and strengthen your child in his/her life journey. Keep it strictly “no TV and no phone time”.
You can control your portions.
When you are eating together at the family table, you are able to watch your portions. As daily meals are set and the mother of the house knows what each person like and tends to have, she makes the standard quantity and appropriate portions. This helps us watch our portions and keep our weight in control.
Good healthy food helps children focus and concentrate, leading to better results.
Anny mother will try and ensure that the family gets as much nutrition as possible, in the form of fruits, vegetables, chicken, meat etc. She will try to cook food with healthy ingredients, which will help you remain healthy.
A family that regularly eats homemade nutritious food have children who are better able to concentrate and get good grades. Good nutrition helps in the overall development of the child. In short, healthy family meals will result in healthy children. A family that prays and eats together, stays together.
No matter how busy your schedule is, today make a commitment to get the family together at the dinner table and enjoy a family dinner. It may seem like a small thing, but it will have a great and positive impact on yours and your children lives. Take that extra step to have family dinners together.
Please read our earlier article Top 7 ways to make your life better and easy
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