With hectic schedules and two income families becoming the normal family structure, it can be difficult for a family to come together at the dinner table consistently. Particularly as children get older and become involved in a variety of activities, it sometimes seems like the traditional family dinner model is outdated and unrealistic. However, there are a great many benefits associated with regular family dinners that should be considered.
1. Nutrition: When families do not eat dinners together, they often use convenience foods or fast food as their meal solution. After all, it is difficult to prepare a nutritious meal for one under time constraints. By coming together and preparing a meal every evening, at least one meal each day can be balanced and healthy.
2. Cost: Similar to the first issue brought about by convenience foods, there is an expense associated with ordering out. Properly planned meals prepared at home, however, can be made on a tighter budget. With carry out dinner for four costing anywhere from 30 dollars or more, it is easy to see how a family that eats out multiple times per week is leaking a lot of money away.
3. Life Skills: From an early age, children who help prepare dinner learn to perform basic tasks, take direction and work as part of a team. Many pre-Kindergarten curriculum choices involve students performing rote tasks such as pouring liquid and counting items. Older children can learn to cook healthy meals that taste good, which is an area that is typically cut in high schools as the emphasis shifts towards college readiness. Family meals can serve a major function in the development of children at all ages.
4. Communication: This is the big reason most people cite for the benefits of the family dinner. When parents and children sit down together for a meal, they talk to each other. This is a time for parents to show that they are interested in their children’s lives, and a time to learn about each other as we develop. Often, meal time is the only time in the day to accomplish this.
Studies show that a great many benefits, including overall health and emotional well being, are fostered by the family meal structure. While these benefits can be gained in other ways as well, family dinners are an effective way to do so for a lot of families.