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.
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.