MOPS newsletter/March 2010

It has been described has a safe haven. Over time, it can create family spirit.

It is the family dinner.

I have read about the advantages of the family dinner. There are numerous rewards of gathering around the family table, sharing a meal, and discussing the day’s events. According to published studies, kids who have a family dinner a few times a week are less likely to smoke, to drink, to do drugs, get depressed, and to develop eating disorders. Studies have also shown that kids who regularly enjoy a family dinner do well in school, eat their vegetables, learn big words, and know which fork to use.

In my house, we have family dinners as often as we can. Our children are at ages where we can still have dinners on a frequent basis. As with most families, various activities and sports, and my husband’s profession, do not always allow for all five of us to be there each time, but we do try. I hope that our family dinners, sometimes family breakfasts, will play a part in my children’s moral compasses. However, we aren’t quite in the place to see all of the published advantages, as our kids are not often out of our supervision; they still depend on us for most things.

So, here are a few other points– in no particular order — I have learned from our family dinners, my own personal research.

Milk spills on red, cloth placemats just perfect so they have to be washed frequently. Water spills on the table so it can be easily, and quickly, wiped off.

It can take 25minutes to eat four green beans and two very small bites of meatloaf. A chocolate cupcake with cream cheese frosting and sprinkles can be eaten in two minutes, or less.

There absolutely cannot be a moment of silence at the dinner table. If a silent moment occurs, three children can immediately fill the silence, all at the same time. Or perhaps, some smacking or gulping of milk can fill the dreaded silence.

When praising one child for eating all of his or her carrots and red peppers, another child takes great offense that I did not comment that he or she ate all of her carrots and red peppers first, therefore, I must like the other child more.

The top questions asked during a family meal are: “can I be done?” and “how many bites do I have to eat?” The top answers are: “you can be done, but you do not get a treat, unless you eat your (multiple choice, take your pick) meat, carrots, peas, tomatoes, or rice” and “you have to eat ALL the bites on your plate, that is why I put them on your plate”.

Above all, the family dinner has taught me how valuable time is; how precious family moments are. I have learned how significant the family meal is to my family’s growth. We laugh, we talk, we listen, and a little eating is done by my girls… my son is growing to where he is eating more and more… and we connect with each other. Yes, our mealtimes can have some trying moments, but I still delight in seeing my family around the table, all together… for I know, the day will come soon enough where we are not all together as often, and I just might miss cleaning up spilled milk.

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