Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Top Ten Reasons to Eat Family Meals Together

I am all about family mealtimes. I know it's not easy to get dinner on the table with kids clamoring around you. It's awful to work hard making a good meal to have little people pronounce it "Yuck!" It requires a special computer program to find a time when everyone (or almost everyone) can be home at the same time. And when you manage everything else, the kids start to squabble. I know. I've been there. But as a mom whose kids are all grown up and out of the house, let me tell you: It was worth it! And here are some of the reasons why.

10. Save Money
This past Christmas I bought a roast beef for $25 which fed 10 people to that full holiday feeling, with enough left over for my husband's lunch. The sides and dessert probably cost only $10 more. Where else can you get a hot, healthy, satisfying meal for $3.50 a person? Only a home-cooked meal eaten together.

9. Improve vocabulary (and grades)
Studies show that kids who eat meals with their families where conversation takes place, have larger vocabularies than children who eat alone or with the TV or Internet entertaining them. They will also do better in school. Why? Probably because they are talking about what they learned, read, or heard, so they are reinforcing it, processing it, and explaining it. Bottom line: Want your kids to do well in school? Eat together with them.

8. Lower Risk of Substance Abuse
The kids who have strong ties to family, and especially to their parents, are less likely to use tobacco, alcohol, or drugs. They have a sense of well-being and know they are loved and important so they won't seek attention or acceptance by peers though conforming to their unhealthy habits.

7. Less Chance of Eating Disorders
If you are preparing dinner at home, chances are most nights you will have a well-balanced healthy meal. That makes it probable that your children will learn good eating habits that they can take with them through life. Reasons seven, eight, and nine aren't guaranteed. You might be able to point out families that had every meal together and have one or more children who didn't do these things, but as a general rule, this gives them a better foundation than not eating together as a family.

6. A Good Opportunity to Teach the Importance of Work
Chores, the bane of every child's life, often revolve around things to do at mealtime: Set the table, help make the meal, clear the table, wash the dishes, sweep the floor. I know that as a parent it is probably easier to do it yourself than get a kid to do it, but that doesn't teach them anything. Life consists of work and what better time to start to learn this than in the kitchen with Mom or Dad nearby coaching, teaching, and visiting. I always wanted to be the family where we all did the dishes together while singing songs. It didn't happen. But my kids did learn that work was a necessity because they were part of a family. (At least, by the the time they were grown up and had their own places, they understood it!)

5. A Time to Practice Manners
We had dinner at my daughter's house the other day. She and her roommate invited both my parents and my husbands, an aunt, and a one of my friends visiting from out of town, over for a meal. They had to set up an extra card table in the kitchen to fit us all in. I was so proud of how she was such a good hostess, making her guests comfortable and knowing what to do. And that is really the goal of manners.

4. Finding the Joy of Hospitality
When we welcome people into our homes we gain so much! Yes, I've had broken dishes, missing toys, dirty bathrooms, and wet towels thrown over wooden chairs. But I've also learned about other places, people from different backgrounds, people with different abilities, how I can help someone, and how they can help me. I've connected people who have become good friends. I've gained places to stay when I visit their part of the world. I've even been an answer to prayer! And most importantly I have obeyed Christ. (Luke 14:13; Hebrews 13:2)

3. Developing the Art of Conversation
Most kids can take forty-five minutes to tell you about a five minute dream they had last night or an hour to explain the movie they just watched. But that's not really conversation. The Art of Conversation is learning when to talk, when to listen, and when to ask questions. It is learning how to listen to hear what the other person means and not just plan what you will say next. Parents have a great opportunity at family meals to teach this to their children by example and sometimes by enforcing rules that let someone else have something to say. There are lots of fun ways to learn to visit with other people. 

2. A Set Time for Family Devotions
It is really, really hard to get everyone together to do devotions. There are so many reasons and excuses from too much home work, to sports practice, to it's past bedtime. That's why eating together is such a natural time to have devotions. Whether it's mom reading a devotion book while the kids eat breakfast or everyone reading a few verses after dinner. You are all together and seated already. Take five to fifteen minutes to make Christ the center of your family.

1. Connecting as a Family
The more time you are together as a family, the more you connect. Whether dinner is a reheated pizza, a burnt casserole, or a three course meal, if you are all sitting together and all eating, that is a family meal. You will talk, interact, probably squabble, maybe spill some milk, but you are connecting and growing closer together. 

Make a goal for 2018: 
One more meal per week as a family than we normally have. 

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Please pass it on!

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  1. Love this! My family and I started eating at the table together and it's really changed our whole dynamic. We're closer than ever and a lot more in tune with each others lives. Completely blessed ❤

    1. Wonderful! I love to hear of families that decide to eat together more often at a table instead of separately or in front of the TV!

  2. Yes, family dinner time, my favorite when the kids were stil here. Well, all of them . I cant' keep my teenager home for such a thing lately. Thank you for such a great read and on time. Lets begin the year with family first on our minds!

    1. We loved it and hated it and have not been sorry that we spent the 31 years we had kids at home eating together! You are welcome. Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed it!

  3. We eat together every night! It is so very important for the reasons you listed, and then some! #FridayFrivolity xoxo

  4. Agreed! We did too, plus breakfast every day 3 meals each day on non-school days and snacks together on school days. (For the most part my kids all came home at the same time.) We were blessed. Now we are blessed with kids who love to sit at the table with us when they visit!

  5. I love this! We eat together nearly every meal (lunch and school being the exception!) and along with all those other blessings is the opportunity to regular hear our children pray and them us over meals!

    1. That's the way we were with our kids. So glad you are enjoying this time in your life. I know that feeding them and getting them out of the way can be tempting so you can have a conversation with your husband or enjoy a good book, but it's so worth it.



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