Family Mealtimes: More Than One Kind of Food

Tom and I would never pretend we have done everything right as parents of our six children. One thing I do believe has helped our kids has been family dinner each night. Despite Tom sometimes being gone for music work evenings, we lived close enough to downtown that he was always able to come home after his daytime job and have dinner with us. It was the norm.


Our funny family 2009

Some of our best memories are from dinner together. With 5 lively kids at the time, it wasn’t a Ward and June Cleaver type dinner atmosphere either. We had lots of laughs and sometimes, serious conversations over meals. Emmy is the only one home now to sit at our table, but the tradition continues. Our children will always have memories of those times when, whatever else happened during the day, we were together, a whole family sitting down to eat and talk.

I saw an article today posted by Gary Bauer. Here’s a quote:

“One study of adolescents found that living in an economically secure home with both biological parents accounted for some, but not all, of the benefits that are typically chalked up to family meals. I’ve come to suspect that regular meals serve as an easily measured proxy for one of the longest-standing and sturdiest determinants of adolescent well-being: authoritative parenting…”

When we as parents are there, and the children are there, we are sending the strong message that we are not just individual units, sleeping under the safe roof like a motel. We are a family, linked together by love, and headed by parents with concern for the well-being of each member. It’s emotional security, and the need for that doesn’t end when children hit adolescence. In my own opinion, that’s when it is needed more than ever.  Family mealtimes provide more than food for the stomach. It is food for the heart, mind and soul when you gather in love.

Here’s the article from the New York Times blog.


Schlueter Family circa 2009

5 thoughts on “Family Mealtimes: More Than One Kind of Food

  1. Ingrid says:

    A FB reader requested to know why “Ken” was about to jump into the mashed potatoes. Ken, as I told her, couldn’t hang on with both hands with his feet on the floor. That is GI Joe showing his stuff. The boys used to have him repelling out of their upstairs window when they were little and even tied him to a ceiling fan and turned it on. (Once.) LOL. Somebody rediscovered him and that’s why he is hanging from the lights.

  2. Tara Stringer says:

    Beautiful pictures, Ingrid. I treasure the candid snapshots of my family’s everyday life much more than the staged professional ones. I couldn’t agree more about family dinner. My oldest is now 18, and often misses family dinners due to work or school or other things, and I miss the “togetherness” of having everyone together in one room. I have the wide age range too (ages 1-18!), which has lovely aspects, but I know that the times of having all 6 kiddos together will be few and precious.

  3. Judi Hayes says:

    I love these pictures AND the words that went with them. We also eat family dinners together and adapt to varying schedules by eating at varying times, often later, with “tide-me-overs” (snacks) until we eat like the Europeans do between eight and ten! Where there is a will, there is a way.

  4. biggardenblog says:

    Thanks for prompting us to re-evaluate what we probably take for granted: a lifetime of shared meals, from when we were children ourselves, through our student days together, years of parenting, and now just the two of us again. When our grown-up children visit, mealtimes (shared, of course!) do, we now see, have a certain ritualistic quality about them, as they are perhaps more important in re-bonding our relationship than the kiss-and-hug at the gangway to the ferry.

  5. Wallace says:

    LOL, for the record, I knew it was GI Joe right from the start. Ken would not be able to accomplish such a feat. I heard an older person say once that near life’s end you realize the little things were actually the big things in life.

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