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Make Time For Family Meals

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

One of the best things about the holidays is that it brings families together. As stressful as that can seem at times, it is what makes the holidays memorable. Having the house filled with kids, parents and siblings is really what it is all about. Having our college boys home and the good natured bantering and arguing over the dinner table brings back memories of burps at the table, not using napkins, spilled milk, inappropriate comments, and growing up. I am still amazed that everyone uses a napkin, knows the correct fork to use, (although when setting the table together the three of them argued about fork placement) and for the most part can carry on an interesting conversation whether it be with an older grand parent or a younger cousin. If you had asked me if this would ever happen I would have had to say, “not likely”, as I know we spent countless hours repeating “put your napkin in your lap” and “don’t talk with your mouth full”, and ” I can’t believe you would say that at the table!!!”

In order to have these memories, families have to gather together and one of the most important times is over a meal. This ritual of family meals may seem to be routine and unnecessary but numerous studies have shown that families who gather together for a meal have children who are more “connected” to family, have more self-esteem, are successful in school, have less problems with alcohol and drug abuse and also less obesity. In short, a family meal may be the easiest way to help raise healthy, and well-adjusted children.

This meal does not need to be elaborate. It may be as simple as a roast chicken, spaghetti, hamburgers or stew. You name it, but it will most likely be healthier than driving through a fast food restaurant. The meal will also be a time to teach manners, conversation and good listening habits. It is also an opportunity to get the kids involved in setting the table, clearing dishes, loading dish washers and learning self help skills so necessary for later in life.

Make it a point to eat together with a family, the rewards will be great.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again soon!

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