We live in the modern age and most of us are perpetually in a hurry. So how do we build strong bonds with our family? Eating dinner together is what most of the top results from a Google search on building those bonds will return. The question remains. Is it actually the meal or could it be parents taking the time to be more involved in their kid’s lives that makes the difference?
A University of Florida article called “The Importance of Family Dinners” says that families may not be aware of the benefits that can come from family mealtime. It also states:
Research suggests that having dinner together as a family at least four times a week has
positive effects on child development. Family dinners have been linked to a lower risk of obesity,
substance abuse, eating disorders, and an increased chance of graduating from high school.
In my experience, the deciding factor is parental involvement at a deeper level, not necessarily trying to force everyone’s schedules to meet at the same time each night. In her article “Why We Don’t Need Family Dinners”, Lisa Hefferman said this about trying to coordinate the nightly activity:
We had family dinner almost every night at ever-changing times. Dinner at our house could be at 5:15 or at 8:45, with huge complaints all around about not being hungry yet or being starved by a mother who is waiting for a father to return.
Authors Ann Meier and Kelly Musick state that their research shows that the benefits of family dinners aren’t as strong or as lasting as previous studies suggest. They add that their findings suggest that you shouldn’t get down on yourself for not being able to corral everybody for dinner. Instead, just finding different ways to connect that will benefit you all is just as helpful. Engage each other and value the time together. That is what makes the difference.
I suggest taking interest in the things that your kids like. It may not be easy, but it will earn their respect. I like to let my kids tell me something I know and act like I didn’t know it. It helps them to feel like a productive member of the family, and sometimes they surprise me with things I don’t actually know!
A parents work is never done.