Family Dinners – Table for Four, Minus One.
by Kerry Rivera
It’s 6 p.m. on a weeknight. Where is your family? Are you joined together around the dining room table? Are you shuttling your kids from activity to activity? Or are you (gulp) … still at the office?
I recently came across an article in The Journal of Adolescence in which researchers provide compelling, new evidence about the value of the “family dinner.” (Don’t even ask how I come across these things.) As it turns out, family meals help young girls steer clear of drugs, alcohol and running away. For young lads, frequent family dinners are negatively associated with physical violence, property-destruction, stealing, running away and gang membership.
Uh-oh … does this spell bad news for my two young boys? My two-year-old does throw LEGOS … and my living room serves more as a wrestling area than a lounging zone.
I’ve mentioned before that I work full-time and have a long commute. That lovely combination sadly equates to many missed family dinners. Lucky for me, my husband is a teacher and does the heavy-lifting when it comes to getting dinner on the table. A crock pot and simple meals help too. The boys usually eat around 5:30 p.m. and I’m typically home about an hour later. Upon my arrival, there are hugs, kisses and a nuked meal ready. As I eat, my boys usually sit down and eat their dessert as I quickly stuff forkfuls of food into my mouth and ambush them with questions about their days. It’s not ideal, but it works for now.
Of course I savour the weekends. Fridays through Sundays we either go out to dinner as a family or eat at home … all four of us. Three nights out of seven isn’t bad … right?
Sometimes I wonder how many families actually complete this monstrous feat of getting everyone around the table for dinner on a weeknight. My kids have yet to arrive to the stage where we are juggling soccer practices and music lessons and scouting and … well, I’m sure many of you can relate. Is that when you resort to eating out of your car and garbling your food down in five minutes flat?