...because we all have our motley moments!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Family Meals

I read an article several years ago that explained the importance of the family meal. It talked about National Merit Finalists and how the only common denominator between the ones they highlighted was that they ate dinner with their families several times a week. That was it; socio-economic status, race, sex - none of that seemed to matter, just the regular family meal.
We don't have many family meals at our house. Once Micah was born, it was just easier to put the toddler in front of the TV with food and tend to the newborn. And, unfortunately, it became a habit. Ethan would wake up, go sit on the couch with some kid show on, and eat. Or, rather, be prodded to take every little bite. "Ethan, get a bite." Ignoring. "ETHAN, get a bite." Still ignoring. "ETHAN, GET A BITE." Turn the TV off. Squealing. Getting a bite. Two minutes later, the same routine. We did this every morning for months. Finally realizing that this approach was bordering on psychotic, we put him at the table to eat. At first he screamed and cried and sat there for over an hour, refusing to eat. Breakfast is still a bit of a struggle, but lunch is great. My husband usually doesn't come home for lunch, but Ethan, Micah, and I sit at the table and eat. We have conversations. We laugh. And I think we eat more healthily because we're paying attention to our food, not to the TV, and we're closer to the kitchen, so it's easier to cut up tomatoes for Ethan to snack on or get fruit for dessert. (Or cookies. Who am I kidding?)
I worried for a little bit that we weren't getting enough family "dinners." We do them, of course, but often we don't, just because our schedules don't permit it. Then I read about the Obamas, who eat breakfast together every day, so I realized that it doesn't matter which meal it is, as long as we share as many of them together as possible. And who knows? Maybe one day we'll have a National Merit Finalist in our house!


Maria said...

Meals times can be really great for us or a bit ugly too. I have noticed that I set the mood. If I'm grumpy, I make everyone grumpy and vice versa. This self control thing is not as easy as it looks!

Lindsay said...

I had a picture perfect idea of sitting at the table every night as a family. It doesn't always happen that way. I do my best, and it does happen several times a week, but not every night.

Usually I will put food in front of Capri (at the table), while I finish cooking. Then the rest of us will sit and eat. However some nights we have to go to dance, or gymnasitcs or swim lessons, or church, and our schedule gets thrown off. I think it's important to try. And like you said it doesn't matter which meal it is, or that it happens EVERY night.

Donna said...

We eat together as a family for almost every meal. That is such a blessing for us! Our kids EXPECT to have dinner at the table all together. They are really thrown off when we don't eat together. If Paul has to work late or can't make it home for lunch, our mealtime just feels different.

Liz, eating in front of the tv never works well for us, either. They forget to actually put food in their mouths when they are engrossed in a movie or show. We keep threatening to make them eat first on pizza & movie night, because they still have their entire slice of pizza to eat when the movie ends and it's bedtime!

Nothing draws the family together like good food. All our best extended family gatherings happen around a dinner table!