Considering how busy we are these days, it can be difficult to lasso everyone for a meal together. Even you, the parent, might be too tired to insist the whole gang head to the table for a family meal.
This family tradition has slowly started to erode over time. It’s more common now for families to eat dinner separately from one another. They may even use their phones to text one another about leftovers.
This can have a huge impact on your children and their development. For parents who want to create a supportive and caring environment in their home, you need to bring back family dinners with everyone at the table. Here are a few benefits that eating together as a family can provide.
1. Parent-Child Time
Both parents and children are busy. Many parents work and have other outside responsibilities that occupy them. Children have their friends and schoolwork, of course. Those who play sports, are in the band, or engage in other extracurricular activities have additional responsibilities that keep them busy. With everyone on a different schedule, it can be difficult to find a time when you can all be together.
Dinner time should be that time. Sometimes, setting a firm dinner time will spur everyone to make room in the schedule for it. Other times, you may need a looser time in order to account for soccer practice or extended band practice. Whatever method works for your family, use it.
The important thing is to have everyone sitting at the table and connecting. Children get to see their parents. Parents get to see their children. They can all catch up on their busy lives and feel connected to one another as a family unit.
One of the key reasons why dinner time is so important is that it offers time to give support. Perhaps you’ve noticed that your child seems depressed or uneasy as of late. Dinner provides a safe environment to broach those subjects. With a well-fed tummy and the comforting presence of supportive parents, children are more likely to talk about what’s going on with them.
Parents may discover that their child is being bullied at school. Perhaps they’re having difficulty understanding a particular subject at school. Whatever the cause might be, dinner time offers the kind of environment a child needs for opening up. It shows the child that their parents care about them and their well-being. They’ll be more likely to remain open in the future as long as they feel as though their parents care and are invested in their happiness.
3. Help With School
Dinner time can also double as homework time. Perhaps your child just can’t wrap his head around a particular science topic. While you may be out of your league, too, at the very least you can help him find resources that might help solve the problem. This support does two things for the child. The first is that offers them direct help. With your expertise, they may be able to understand the subject better. In turn, they perform better at school.
The second way this impacts the child is that it shows them that you care about how they’re doing at school. Too often, children don’t perform well because they don’t receive any repercussions at home. They’re not pressured to do well in school. Since this affects their development and learning, they won’t do well in school later in life. They likely won’t attend college either or get a job with lasting job security.
By helping them with homework during dinner, you’re investing in their future. Children can potentially understand the content better and also receive the support they need from you. They’ll take their studies more seriously and continue to develop positively.
4. Promotes Language Skills
In the case of parents with small children, having dinner together can actually help promote their language skills. Learning a language is extremely important in smaller children. The sooner they can understand and use language, the faster they can start developing it further and understanding more complex content. Family dinners provide a great environment for learning. Children are learning without even realizing it.
Parents should talk to their younger children and encourage them to speak. You can even quiz them on the meal that they’re eating and teaching them new words. Since it’s easy for smaller kids to be left out of the conversation, having dinner together allows you to shine a spotlight on them. They can feel engaged with the family and really work to express themselves.
While reading to your child is also a great way to help promote language skills, having family dinners is the best way to keep them talking and a part of the conversation.
5. Improves Mental Health
Depression can hit anyone. Even young children and teenagers can suffer from depression and anxiety. A way to help improve the mental health of your child is to have family dinners with them. Starting early is the best way to keep a child from developing depression. While there are plenty of other factors that go into depression, at the very least, giving them a safe place to talk and feel encouraged and loved can help in some way.
Children who feel as though they’re listened to and appreciated are going to be mentally happier than those who do not receive attention from their parents. Those children eventually grow up and still suffer from depression and anxiety. Surrounded by bad influences, they might turn to drugs in order to deal with their depression.
This is a future that you can save your child from by introducing family dinners to them. By starting the practice early, they’ll be able to rely on those family dinners to keep themselves connected to others outside of their own head. They’ll also feel as though they have a strong family unit that they can fall back on whenever they feel out of sorts.
6. Closer Bonds
Finally, a family that has dinners together are a stronger unit. Everyone feels closer to one another. Parents feel closer together, children feel closer together, and parents feel closer to their children. By being vulnerable with one another at the dinner table and admitting to both highs and lows of your day, you’re establishing close bonds without even realizing it. Instead of a family that remains segmented and closed off from one another, your family is open. You don’t have to ask around to know what your child is up to when they’re not at home. They tell you themselves.
This quality time cannot be traded for anything. With the close bonds that you create at family dinners, you’re setting the family up for a healthy and supportive future.
Start Eating Together Today
If you’re a parent, then you should start having family dinners. The benefits of eating as a family cannot be matched. In a world that is already promoting connections all across the world, you need to make sure that your child knows that their family is right there for them whenever they need them. To support your child’s health, mental health, educational future, and self-esteem, you should start having family dinners. After a few weeks, you’ll likely notice how strong your family has become together.
Put your children first, set the phone and work down, and enjoy a good dinner together.
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