There is something to be said about eating a meal together as a family. I heard once that if kids eat a meal with their family they are likely to eat more vegetables. I don’t know if that is true but I know I seem to enjoy eating my broccoli more when I am sitting at the dinner table with my wife and kids.
It can be hard to get everyone together to sit around the table for a meal these days. Distractions are everywhere. Some days it is one of the kids who is unable to make it to dinner and some days it is one of the adults.
In the wintertime we tend to gather in the room with the woodstove as it is generally the warmest room in the house. There is also a TV in that room. It is easy to make a plate of food, sit down at the coffee table, and just kick back to watch Netflix. A modern day version of the TV Dinner.
In the summertime we tend to spend more time together at dinner. I think it is because we spend more time eating outside and are less distracted by the TV. We don’t have any TVs outside and we are less likely to have that feeling of hibernation when the sun is still out during dinner.
The University of Michigan did a study that ran from 1981-1997 and it examined how American children spent their time. The study discovered the following: the amount of time children spent eating meals at home was the single biggest predictor of better academic achievement and fewer behavioral problems. Mealtime was more influential than time spent in school, studying, attending religious services, or playing sports.
I saw the results of that study and my first thought was that it was outdated since the end date was over 20 years ago. Kids have changed over the past 20 years. Kids today are “digital natives”. They are teaching their grandparents and parents how to use the multiple devices in the house. They are communicating with their friends in different ways. They are more connected than ever.
Then the more I thought about the study, the more I realized my thinking may be wrong. Kids today are just the same as kids 20, 40, 60 years ago. They crave connection with family. They want the stability of home. They want to hide their veggies under their plates.
Thinking about this study encourages me to make dinner with the family more of a priority than it already is. My kids are getting older now, they are both teenagers. They want to spend more time with their friends. I understand and encourage that.
I also think that they may enjoy sitting down at dinner with Mom and Dad no matter how much they push against it and want to eat in front of the TV. We all seem to laugh more when we are sitting around the dinner table-no matter how funny the latest show on Netflix may be.