Family dinners are a tradition that may not be as common as they once were. A 2016 Harris Poll found that family dinners were on the decline, with 59 percent of respondents reporting that their families sat down for fewer family dinners today than they did when respondents were growing up. But there is hope that family meals can become trendy once again.
Family mealtime is more beneficial than people may know. Studies have shown that family meals can strengthen familial bonds by providing a time when the entire family can be together. Young children who routinely enjoy mealtime with their families may develop a sense of security and belonging. In addition, a recent study from researchers at Columbia University found that 71 percent of teens said they consider talking, catching up and spending time with family members a key part of family dinners.
The American College of Pediatricians says the family table is one of the few places children can observe their parents interact, solve problems, negotiate, and express emotions. Those who want to make family meals part of their routines can consider these tips.
• Celebrate your ethnic culture. One enjoyable way to spend time together and learn more about what makes your family tick is to focus on cultural meals when dining. Set aside one day each week to prepare ancestral meals as a family. Enlist the help of the children when preparing meals and play some traditional music while cooking and dining.
• Make it kids’ choice. Allow children to choose the menu on certain days of the week. Give them the responsibility of choosing the recipe and take them along to shop for the ingredients. Children who help plan and prepare meals can learn valuable life skills and learn how to make smart food choices.
• Dine out when you can. Make excuses to dine out. Set up a white board in a high-traffic area of the house. Each family member can jot down a restaurant they want to try. Then once or twice a month pick from the list and hit the town. Nights out give children a chance to practice their social skills and behavior while providing families a chance to connect.
Family meals pay various dividends. Finding time to dine together can help parents build strong families.
– Metro Service