Growing up my family ate dinner together almost every night, right until the day I left home. To this day I look forward to a Sunday dinner invite at my mom and dads. It’s comforting, it’s tradition, and I think it made a difference in our house.
That’s why I want to keep up the Sunday dinner tradition with my kids. But I’ll be honest, I haven’t been very good at it thus far. Whether it’s the fact that my kids are still young and hardly eat a thing I make, or perhaps it’s that life seems so busy that making a traditional Sunday dinner can feel like another pressure in an already hectic week, I’m not sure. But I feel an intense desire to do this for my kids. I buy into the whole argument that dinner with the family helps children grow into healthier people.
One of the studies discussed in this Time article found that family dinners get better with time. Apparently “the less often a family eats together, the worse the experience is likely to be.” Makes perfect sense to me. It’s like anything, practice makes perfect. Families who spend time together are more likely to comfortable with each other.
The research isn’t conclusive about why family dinners work, but one thing is for sure, I believe, like the article says, that it reinforces a whole host of family values and habits. I think it sends a message to our children that they matter, that the family matters. So much so that parents are willing to protect time just to be together, time that is as free as possible from outside distractions and pressures.
I get that in today’s busy world, it isn’t always easy to do. Kids are busy, parents are busy, there just isn’t enough time in the day. That’s why I’m working hard to cement this tradition while my kids are young. Weeknight dinners will be important and as much as possible we will make it a priority to eat together. But Sunday nights will be protected, everyone will be expected to be home. It will not be optional, it will be mandatory. It was when I was growing up. Not only was it mandatory, it was family time. That meant friends weren’t invited. It was time for our family. It’s a tradition that I think is worth working hard for and an investment in my family that I believe matters.