Today I’m going to the first Family Dinner Conference. I know what you’re thinking, there is a family dinner conference?
The answer is yes and the reason is because family dinner is important and increasingly, a lost art.
I’ve heard the reports that kids do better in school, are less likely to bully are more likely to withstand bullying when they have meals with their parents. I’ve read the articles about why it’s important to connect around the table. I practice the ritual in my own home and I and preach family dinner rituals as often as I can. Heck, I even have created an entire program that I speak about and work with clients on. I’ve even started writing a book about about, you guessed it, family dinner.
You’d think I was convicted enough about the importance of this shared mealtime to be all in. But what I’ve learned lately is that I had no idea how much I was getting out of family dinners. Sure, I knew they were theoretically important for my kids. But, lately, as we’ve gotten busier and everyone is going in all directions, we’ve fallen away from family dinner a little and I’m feeling the loss significantly and seeing how truly important those meals are to the entire family dynamic.
As my kids get older, I spend less and less time with them. Even when we’re all home, they have things they’d rather do than hang out with their mom. So when we gather at that table every night, I hear their stories and connect with their little souls in a way I really can’t any other time of day.
And they connect with eachother. There are jokes I don’t get. There is conversation amongst them that I’m sure they wouldn’t have any other time. They tease eachother and support eachother. They fight and the laugh and help by doing their share. We practice the art of conversation. We seek guidance and support and relief through connection. We act like a family should, which the components of that are contained in a lesson that is hard to catch when we’re scattered about throughout the day.
I’m not sure why as a whole we’ve allowed it to go away-the act of family dinner. I know for myself, the extensive planning and cooking that I once did to make it happen, became daunting as I took on more work and the kids took on more activities. So, I was last-minute throwing stuff together and feeding them before I grazed for myself later in the evening.
This isn’t ok for anyone. I need the ritual as much as they. I need to make the effort to have meals ready to go so we can sit together and be a family and all that entails.
It doesn’t have to be a huge effort. The meals don’t have to be gourmet. But they must be together-at least some of the time.Because the kids need it and I need it and our family needs it.
So today I’ll go to a conference on Family Dinner. I’ll hear from “experts” or, more likely, other parents just trying to do the best they can-some doing it quite well. Then I’ll come home to find The Husband sharing dinner with the kids. And I’ll hope to be inspired to keep it up until they leave my home for good.