Family Dinner: Families that eat together, stay together!

When I was growing up, there were certain RULES that had to be followed at dinner time. It was a given that we would eat together every single night. You didn’t go to soccer practice or flute lessons during dinner time.

Family dinner became something I was passionate about because of the experiences I had growing up. Were things perfect every night? Nope. I lingered for an hour every time my mom served Brussels sprouts.

But, it was a time to gather together after having been apart all day and it gave me a sense of family even when I tried to hide within myself as a teen. I thought I would share a few requirements that I have set for my own family dinners in case you want to start this magical tradition with your own family.

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Family dinner

Family Dinner Rules

  • Thou shalt set the table for your parents
  • Thou shalt wash your hands WITH SOAP before doing so
  • Thou shalt turn off TV and radio while eating
  • Thou shalt NOT answer the telephone during dinner
  • Thou shalt discuss your day with your family and NOT argue with your sister…nor shall you kick her under the table!
  • Thou shalt NOT play the game of ‘do you like see-food’…keep your mouth closed
  • Thou shalt not hold fork and knife in hands while eating (unless actually cutting food) big pet peeve of my dad’s!
  • Thou shalt ask to be excused before leaving the table
  • Thou shalt clean off your mess before leaving.

And, the biggie: Don’t like what we are having? TOO BAD THIS ISN’T A RESTAURANT!

Family dinner

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Growing up, dinner was a time to get together and relax, share our days, our highs and lows, and reconnect as a family. You made time for dinner. Sure, sometimes when we got older and got jobs or had band practice we might miss one occasionally but it was frowned on.

In today’s crazy society, with kids and parents coming and going, it is easy to lose sight of what it means to be family. In our house, with my kids, I stress the family dinner just like my parents did.

We do not schedule after-school activities that interfere with our eating together, even if some days we have to eat dinner at 4:30 in the afternoon! We do not answer the phone if it rings, have iPods in our ears, or read books. We connect (to each other, not the Internet!).

Teaching children about the dinner hour is important if they are going to continue the tradition with their own families when they get older. My children help me cook frequently and are responsible for setting the table. My daughter used to like to pretend she is a waitress and ‘takes our order’ on her little pad of paper. We sit together and discuss our days.

Is it perfect? NO! There is frequently complaining over the meal (did we HAVE to put beans in this?), arguing over who gets to tell daddy what happened at school, and the occasional spilled glass of milk. 

Families aren’t perfect so dinner shouldn’t be either! Some days, daddy has to work late and others mommy only has the energy to make pancakes for dinner. But, on most nights, we are eating together as a family.

I like to think that maybe 30 years from now, my kids will pass on this important tradition to their own families. Do you have any family dinner tips?

2 thoughts on “Family Dinner: Families that eat together, stay together!”

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