It’s that time when New Year’s resolutions are made with gusto. According to a New York Times article, seventy percent of family meals are consumed outside the home. About half of Americans rarely have a family dinner, yet research shows that children (including teenagers) who regularly eat with their families benefit in many areas. What if we made eating together at home a priority for 2023?
Eating Together as a Family Positive Impacts Your Children
Kids who regularly dine with their families are more likely to have a better body image, a lower rate of obesity, and higher self-esteem. They have better grades, higher reading scores, and increased vocabulary. In addition, kids had a lower risk of depression, substance abuse, and teen pregnancy when they ate with their families. And teenagers who frequently dined with their family were likelier to have a close relationship with their parents.
It’s not difficult to discern that eating together as a family has significant consequences. The Family Dinner Project identified sixteen times to get together as a family during the week: two meals per day during the work week and three meals a day during the weekend. Yes, it’s feasible to find time to eat together.
The dinner table is the home hub where we share the day’s happenings and bond. The table should be a relaxing setting where negative comments are prohibited. Conversation starters are fun and create meaningful memories. They also allow you to get to know your child better—to discover what they like, what their friends are like, and most importantly, to make lasting impacts on them with the gospel. Here are a few questions to get the conversation flowing: What is your earliest childhood memory? Name one talent you wish you had. How much influence do you think your friends have on you? Who is your favorite Bible hero, and why?
Change Up Your Family Menus
Varying the menu or place you eat can break a monotonous dinner time. Consider implementing taco Tuesday, soup Sunday, no manners night, breakfast for dinner, pasta night, or try foods from another country. A change of venue, such as eating on the floor or at a picnic table (when the weather warms), sparks conversations and creates excitement. It doesn’t always have to be the parent planning or preparing the meals. If you have a child interested in cooking, give them rein in the kitchen.
Children learn to pray at the table. They are reminded that God provides and that family allows a safe and supportive atmosphere for them to practice praying out loud.
If these ideas sound exhausting, remember together is better than apart. The family table is a chance to redeem the time with your kids. Soon enough, they will head off to college. Let’s make eating together a 2023 resolution.
Sally is offering a FREE list of Thirty Meal Ideas for Families at her website www.sallycressman.com. Let’s connect on Instagram @sacressman.