“These commandments are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home.” – Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Though essential, food is not the most important element at the dinner table. Your family is. The family dinner is a great opportunity to bond with one another and, according to research, live better.
Surprisingly, in one study the number of families who report eating together at least five times a week has grown from 47% in 1998 to 59% in 2012. That’s good news.
Secular experts report some significant benefits of eating together as a family:
Over the past 15 years researchers have confirmed what parents have known for a long time: sharing a family meal is good for the spirit, the brain and the health of all family members. Recent studies link regular family dinners with many behaviors that parents pray for: lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy and depression, as well as higher grade-point averages and self-esteem. Studies also indicate that dinner conversation is a more potent vocabulary-booster than reading, and the stories told around the kitchen table help our children build resilience. The icing on the cake is that regular family meals also lower the rates of obesity and eating disorders in children and adolescents. What else can families do that takes only about an hour a day and packs such a punch?
—Dr Anne Fishel, Assoc. Clinical Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School.
As we raised our three girls, Sweet Sue was rather strict about sitting down together for family dinner. With few exceptions, she insisted the TV be turned off (even during college football season!). Since we parented before cell phone dominance, that’s all the “unplugging” we needed to do.
With a little forethought or the use of some simple resources, family mealtime is a good time to impress the things of God on our children and grandchildren. Even if you can’t get two adults and all the children together, kids benefit from eating with one adult.
Cottonwood Creek Church makes numerous mealtime resources available online on our Faith@Home page. I also highly recommend checking out the content at TheFamilyDinnerProject.org by Dr. Anne Fishel and her colleagues. Finally, you can contact me for additional family meal ideas.
See you at church this Sunday.