In days gone by, people used to gather around the dinner table and shut off the television and all electronic distractions. In fact, when Brad Roemer was younger they did not even answer the telephone when it rang. Mind you, this was in the days before call waiting, caller ID, and answering machines. When the phone would go unanswered during dinner, you had no idea who was actually calling, and you would have to call all of your friends to see who called you, but we digress. Breakfast is always said to be the most important meal of the day, but dinner has its claim to fame too. Dinner is the meal that gets people together and having a family dinner really warms the heart (and stomach, literally). How can we get back to having family dinners and stop the digression of the family unit? We have some ideas that Brad gave us.
In a recent study, 80% of people surveyed stated that the main reason for not having a family sit down dinner was due to not being able to plan it around the family schedules. For example, the kids get home between 4 to 4:30 pm, Mom gets home around 5:45 pm and Dad does not get home until just before 7:00 pm. While it may seem that dinner could just be planned for the minute that Dad gets home, we forgot about one important factor – afterschool activities (e.g. band, cheerleading, soccer, etc.). This is where the logistical nightmare starts. The family has to eat when they can and therefore no longer has the ability to sit down as a unit and eat dinner. There is a solution, though.
It would be too much to say, skip the extracurricular activities or dinner all together. Perhaps we do not have to have every dinner together at the same time. Maybe ordering out might help. The microwave has been saving people time for years now, but is it relevant for us today? The answer is all and none of the above. There is, however, the possibility for compromise. Let us consider the possibility to get the family dinner back, by taking baby steps. So, this Saturday, Brad Roemer suggests you have a family dinner. If you cannot do it on Saturday due to work schedule, do it on a night that no one in the family has things to do. Essentially, start with one night and start from there. Remember, Rome was not built in one day, and neither will having regular family dinners be that easy.
Sitting down for a family dinner, as Brad did in his younger years, is very important for the family. It keeps the parents and the children in good communication. Communication between family members is mentally satisfying. It creates stronger bonds and allows kids the ability to learn both good manners and emotional regulation. So, when you do get a chance to have that dinner, sit the family down, turn off the television, do not answer the telephone (at least these days you will know who you have to call back), and have a healthy dinner with the family!