Why dine together? What's the big deal about eating at the same table? You may not feel it's important, but most kids ñ whether they tell you or not ñ do. They actually like spending time with their folks. A 1997 survey in Parade magazine's column "Lynn Minton Reports" asked students: "What is dinnertime like in your home?" Here are some of the responses:
"My mom works from 1:00PM till 10:30PM, so I almost never get to see her. My father goes to work at 3AM and gets home at 6 or 6:30PM. So my brothers and I make whatever we want. When my dad gets home, he makes whatever he wants. That's our suppertime. I wish we had a family where we would sit around the table and talk while eating." — Jamie McCool, 17
"In my family, we have to wait until everybody shows up—then we eat. I think most Chinese always do it that way. At the table, we talk about what happened today and have a happy time. I think talking to my parents is very important, because they always give some ideas to solve my problems, and talking to them at the dinner table can make me feel comfortable." — Jonathan Kao, 17
"Every night around 6, my mom, brother, sister and I gather around the table for a home-cooked meal. We say grace, and then we talk about our day and new things happening. I enjoy sitting with my family, because I love them." — Zulema Encinas, 16
"...lately it has become a rare event for all of us to sit around the table to a home-cooked meal. My father is working odd hours, and my sister is away at college, so it's often just my mom and me... Still, there are days when we manage to get all of us at home to enjoy a family dinner just like when I was little." — Lindsay George, 13
Family dining brings people together. You find out what's happening with your kids, and they get the benefit of your guidance. After all, growing up is a perplexing thing, and the more comfortable the kids feel in talking with the parents, they more likely they'll share those inner parts of themselves. It's known as good communication, and it doesn't happen magically. It has to be fostered and developed, and as parents, you need to take the lead in creating it.
Other things are learned at table—like manners, social graces and how to converse. Where else will your kids learn these things if you don't take the time to teach them?
This is an edited and updated archive of pages originally published in 1997.
Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.
Modified August 2007
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