Although she’s known as Hollywood's green goddess of global warming through her tireless eco-activism — from producing the 2006 Academy Award-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” to serving as a trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Laurie David can be as anxious about parenting as any other mom. But when she watched her daughters clearly enjoying each other as the family finished dinner one night, she realized she’d done at least one thing right — making family meals a ritual.
It was that aha moment that led David, the former wife of "Seinfeld" co-creator and creator-star of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" Larry David, to write the just-released “The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time.”
The 52-year-old Huffington Post blogger works out of her homes in Los Angeles and Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., and shares custody of daughters Cazzie, 16, and Romy, 14.
A family meal seems so simple, yet recent studies and your book indicate there’s a lot more going on than just nourishment. What are the benefits you’ve seen in your own family when you sit down together?
It’s the exact reason why I wrote this book. I had this epiphany after doing this ritual for over a decade. I sat at the table and thought, “Oh, my God, this is so powerful.” This is the one thing I can say I’ve done right as a parent. The No. 1 benefit is, if you do this ritual with your family, your family’s going to be talking to each other. That’s the key; more important than the food is the conversation. You’re going to know what your kids are going through, and they’re going to know what you’re going through.
While many people may remember a Norman Rockwell kind of family dinner, there are probably as many who recall something a little more dysfunctional. Is it the meal or is just about connecting?
I talk about my family in the book; sometimes I couldn’t get away from the table fast enough. Someone always left the table crying. For a lot of people, it’s not even about that it’s hard to make food, it’s hard to make conversation. For parents today, it’s getting harder and harder to connect with your kids and with each other. That’s because of our lifestyle. Everything about our lifestyle is working against us.
Your former husband, David, still joins you for family meals. Not many divorced couples can do that. How have you made that work?
That was a conscious effort on my part. It was my greatest desire to have that happen. It took about six months after the divorce to come back to the table. But I think that because he had been part of this ritual for so long and the food and the company, and because we’d been on the same page about parenting. When you get divorced, you’re stuck with each other if you have kids, you have to co-parent these kids and the older they get the harder that gets. So I was not about to not try to have a situation where we could be amicable and we could be on the same page about things. And, it worked.