One of the most important parts of my upbringing is centered around my family. At the end of the day, after school and work had settled, we all congregated to the dinner table and talked with one another about the day’s events. Not just on Sunday, but every day. However, Sunday is known as a pretty common family day, so where have our Sunday family dinners disappeared to?
People chalk it up to simply not having time and having other things to get done. The fact of the matter is, we all need to make time. Because one day, you won’t have those family members around anymore. Designated family time is so important.
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe, a registered psychologist and parenting expert, has weighed in on the importance of creating designated family time by way of a family dinner.
“The family that eats together thrives together. Mealtime has historically been a time of family togetherness. Plus, if you’re getting multiple generations together, then there is tapestry of diversity in terms of ages and interests and that is just so good for kids.”
Anne Fishel, Ph.D., a family therapist and co-founder of The Family Dinner Project, has also described the kinds of benefits that can come from family mealtime. “The benefits range from the cognitive ones (young kids having bigger vocabularies and older kids doing better in school) to the physical ones (better cardiovascular health, lower obesity rates and eating more vegetables and fruits) to psychological ones (lower rates of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse and fewer behavioral problems in school).”
She also says that what’s for dinner doesn’t matter and that it’s the communal environment that is created during this time that matters and makes all the difference.
“These benefits don’t derive from a perfect roast chicken or organic tomatoes but instead from the atmosphere at the table — if there is conflict, stony silence or an intoxicated parent, these benefits do not occur. It’s critical that the atmosphere at the table be warm and inviting, that kids feel that it is safe to talk and know that someone is listening,” she explains.
With all this being said, it’s important to remember to set aside some time for your family, especially at dinnertime. We know you have work on Monday morning, we know you have things you need to finish before the week starts. But set aside a few hours time with your family and take a break from the stresses of life. You didn’t even know you needed it!