The Importance of Eating Meals as a Family
Family and food at the table. This concept holds significant value to the family unit. In the fast paced world of parenting, we as parents lead busy lives and subsequently so do our children. At times we have opposing schedules, and don’t always share in the same activities.
However, there is one thing that each member of our family does every day without fail: we EAT. So it makes sense to make an effort to eat together. I understand that scheduling to get each member of the family together and preparing a meal every night may not be realistic for all families. But, there can be specific days in which a family dinner can be accomplished and this is not an opportunity that should be missed.
Eating meals as a family is an attainable goal, and by doing it you are not only offering your family a consistent moment of stability, you will also be providing yourself and every member of your family with 5 essential needs for a human being. While technically the only things needed for survival are food, clothing and shelter, there are other fundamental needs that we have especially when growing into adulthood.
Self Actualization, Esteem, Love, Security and Nutrition
By intentionally making family dinner apart of your daily routine you can achieve the following positive outcomes which will serve to strengthen and enhance your family unit. Remember to mute all phones and turn off the televisions. You are there for each other as a family and no one else unless someone else joins in person.
Sitting around the dinner table surrounded by those you can relate to, and those who both value and are invested in your life is a powerful way of helping you and your children achieve self-actualization. Self actualization comes by being sure of who you are, by being creative and by having the ability to solve problems and accept the facts of your life. As a parent, family meals allow you to focus in on your children and to help them attain self actualization goals.
Giving children time to answer questions about what is going on in their lives gives them the ability to express how they feel and put their thoughts together in coherent sentences. Help them solve any problems they might face and help them develop strategies for success. By doing this you are promoting creativity, problem solving, and accepting life’s terms by teaching them to figure things out introspectively.
Esteem comes through confidence, achievement, respect for others and respect for one’s self. Family dinners allow for round table type of discussions. When at the dinner table either decide upon a small topic to discuss, or simply see how conversations are developing. Open ended questions will require more than a one word response, so it can be a good idea to ask opinions on what color to change a room to or what ideas they might have to improve certain aspects of life.
Giving your children this set time of knowing their input is valued will have an overwhelmingly positive effect of their esteem. They are receiving respect while others listen to their input and are learning how to be respectful by actively listening while others give their own input.
Love and Belonging
Setting time to sit down with your family teaches your children that there is always a safe place where they are loved and with whom they belong. Constantly seeing that their family makes purposeful time for them can even positively affect their relationships and work ethic outside of the home. This happens as they begin to put in intentional time towards who and what they spend their quality time with. Don’t forget to tell your children that you love them. Although we mean it we are sometimes too busy to say it, so this time together at the table is a good opportunity to reiterate this true and sincere fact with your children.
At these planned and heartfelt family dinners you are giving your children a sense of security. They become secure in knowing that they are a part of a family “team” who will be with them through life’s challenges and triumphs. Through the discussions, displays of respect, appreciation and love they receive at this table, they will ultimately know that the family is who they can feel secure and safe with.
Food and Nutrition
As it was when they were infants, watching your children eat provides a strangely gratifying emotional response. Watching them eat at these family dinners will give you this same wonderful response!
It can be hard to always monitor what your children are eating, so these planned dinners will provide you with the opportunity to give your children an intentionally nutritious meal. In addition to providing your family with their essential nutrients, the “soul” food you are providing your family while at these meals and while conversing with them will fuel them for a lifetime.
To Sum Up
I think you will be very pleasantly surprised to see how one small gathering paired with the tips that were given above will help your children blossom into well rounded and confident adults. In addition to the multitude of benefits that were mentioned, subsequent benefits such as good grades, better behavior in school and positive social-emotional interactions will result. I urge you to give planned family meals a try and see for yourself the many positive outcomes that will arise for both you and your children.