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Wednesday, September 30, 2009



Hi Stace. I think it's important to remember that correlation does not mean causation. Maybe just the fact that you're the type of family that strives to have family dinners together means you'll reap all those benefits. :) Maybe the benefits are in your intentions and not so much in all the messy details. Nice post.


Yes, I used the word "correlation" on purpose because I knew my husband would make just the point you made if I suggested any causal link. Still, I do think there is something to family dinners even if you can't tease out just what it is!


The definition of family dinners is different for every family, every age group of children. For our brood, which includes 3 teenagers, our goal is to make family dinners work when possible. Of course this week, one parent is out of town, and our usual running around in the 4-9pm timeblock makes this a challenge. However, even if it is take out Chinese or quick sloppy joes, having 20 minutes of uninterrupted conversation really does make a difference. I borrowed (and updated) a rule from my own upbringing: no answering the phone during dinner. Blackberries and cell phones - all 5 of them need to be away from the table. It works 80% of the time. Nevertheless, it is amazing what you can learn about your children's thoughts, their friends, and their everyday challenges in 20 minutes! I also like to make dinner one night a week (we pick Friday) in our dining room, just to make it a little more special.


Gail, you make some excellent points about tailoring family dinner to your families' needs. The link I cite to from PBS Parents contains some great suggestions along this line - like turning late night snack time into the family dinner conversation time. I love the image of the five of you surrendering your mobile devices before sitting down together!


I follow Sharon Silver (Proactive Parenting) on FB and Twitter and really liked her suggestion for extracting information about school days - not that it applies to my 15-month-old yet:

"Want to know more about child's day in school? Don't ask, How was school? You'll get FINE. Try, What was best thing and worse thing today?"


We have family dinners almost every night, and yes, the conversation also involves multiple reminders to stay seated and keep food, utensils and hands above the table. At one point last year we actually tied my daughter to her chair because we imprudently gave away her booster seat before she could be trusted to sit still. She liked it!

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