The Importance of Family Meals
It’s a proven fact: family meals will change your life. You know, eating together in blissful harmony. Not only does it beat grabbing a takeout taco, a stale salad, or a big burger, all the studies show it will benefit your family well-being, as well as your body and brain.
For adoptive families, I believe it solidifies children’s places in the family and gives them a greater sense of attachment and bonding. For working families, it demonstrates just what a wonder is the cooking contraption called the crockpot, lol.
By dining together, addiction and substance abuse plummets, while academic performance increases. Nutrition and a sense of family identity improves. These are some of the multiplied benefits found among those who enjoy at least five family meals together per week. Anthropologists add that it also becomes a great time to learn how to converse, solve conflicts and compromise.
Those are the experts. They know about such things and they have spoken.
But as a mother, I understand the deep mysteries which they might never study under clinical conditions. It involves the yin and yang of wanting a pleasant dining experience… and realizing that it will probably never happen when the kids are hungry and cranky. Rather than improving manners, listening skills and serving others, things can turn south even before the meal begins.
Moi: Okay, kids, it’s almost time to eat. Can you please help set the table?
Unnamed Child #1: I did it last time.
Unnamed Child #2: (Disappears.)
Unnamed Child #3: Alright.
Moi: Did you wash your hands?
Unnamed Child #3: (Disappears.)
Unnamed Child #4: (Walks in and is saddled with the task. Others magically appear after said task is completed, or I might intervene and tell said servant just to wait a few minutes until everyone else is there to help. Hahahahaha… fools them every time….)
Moi (now seated at said table, everyone has been served & prayer prayed): Well, so who has a great topic of conversation?
Unnamed Child #1: Mbflekkrf… wjstpff….
Moi: Right…. Now we really want to hear what you have to say, but you need to swallow first….
Unnamed Child #2: Could I just have a little bit? I’m not hungry….
Unnamed Child #3: Give it to me, I’ll eat it.
Unnamed Child #4: You know, my friends get to eat/ arrive home/ wear whatever/ whenever they want….
Benedetto: And you think that should happen here….
Husband and Moi: (Hysterical laughter.)
So while experts claim that all of these benefits float down upon the family that eats together, I find that the ones learning the art of negotiating, resolving conflicts and observing good table manners are the parents. Probably it’s our mental capacities that are increasing, as well, when we have to remember who does or does not eat bread, who cannot stand the texture of certain foods, or who feels that jello should be a component of most fine dining experiences.
Right now, stats tell us that family meals are on the rise from maybe ten years ago. While politically-liberal persons eat together slightly less than moderates or conservatives, it’s about even. (Chalk that up to extra time spent away from home, trying to keep their candidate out of prison, lol….) On the religious front, parents who rarely or never attend religious meetings were interestingly, slightly more likely to have dinner together as a family, which cultural anthropologists might inform us has taken on a type of spiritual significance in their life.
Any way you slice it, breaking break together is a good thing, whether it transforms the children… or the parents…. Do you eat together as a family very often?
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