What exactly are some of the real benefits of eating together as a family?
When you spend time together as a family doing something that has value to all of you it helps everyone feel they’re an important member of the family unit.
Preparing a meal together, and then eating it, and even cleaning it up afterward is a naturally important part of everyone’s day (we all need to eat which includes preparing the food and cleaning it up) and when you make it a family activity you’re saying we’re ALL NEEDED which is fundamental to self esteem.
It’s empowering and inspiring to feel that you’re part of something bigger than yourself, that you’re needed and valued – and sharing family responsibilities and activities like regularly shared meals is the perfect place to learn that. When the family feels well united and bonded as a unit it truly can feel like your home is a haven in a sometimes overwhelming world. But without that bonding, it’s hard to enjoy being home together.
Raising a family and being part of a family can try our patience and set our nerves on fire. As a parent it’s not usually easy trying to meet everyone’s needs and suit their personal tastes. In any one family you’re bound to have introverts and extroverts, silly and serious temperaments, those who want to talk to everyone and laugh with gusto and those who prefer solitude and quiet.
Learning to get along together, even when everything is not entirely to your liking is literally the fertile ground for learning how to get along in life itself. Having to learn this is not merely an inconvenience – it’s how you learn to have good relationships with someone other than yourself! When you think of the importance of this skill to your child’s future (and let’s face it – to your relationships as well) it’s much easier to relax and be patient with the ebb and flow of family interactions.
Well now you may be thinking that if family dinner time is so important you had better take it more seriously and “get it right”, but the the secret to making this a healthy part of your family development is being more relaxed about it! This family time together should be about a shared responsibility, and the more matter of fact that you can be about it the easier it will become a “no-drama” habit. That in turn opens up the pathways of natural communication (which will sometimes include the drama of daily life) and help all of the family get on with the experience of learning to get along and be with each other in healthy comfortable ways for the benefit of everyone in the family. It’s surprising how many families don’t have this! Being relaxed about trying to have the “perfect family time” will go a long way in helping everyone to get the most from this time together.