How often should families eat together?


#1

Just curious about what others on this forum think about the importance of families having a regular meal together.


#2

Well, certainly as often as they can. My 11y/o daughter asks me almost every day, "Are we having a together supper tonight?"
So, I guess it’s pretty important to her, although it doesn’t work out as well as it should.
Seems like whenever we are all supposed to be here for supper I plan it all for dh’s arrival, inevitably he gets caught at work, and I end up feeding the kids ('cuz they’re starving) before he gets home.
Maybe I should let them snack in the afternoon, eh?


#3

It’s amazing to me that this is even a question today. Guess that shows how old I am! Back in my day, there was absolutely no question that the family would eat dinner together every night - without fail. Dad would walk in the door from work at 4:55 and my mama would have the meal on the table at 5:00. I don’t remember being allowed to eat at anyone else’s house until I was about 17 years old and even then, it was a trauma for my mom to have one of her “brood” missing from the table!

I voted for “at least once a day”.

BTW: I believe that, as a result of this practice, me and my two sisters were all thin and today, we all know how to cook well!


#4

I am beginning to believe that this cultural disease of ‘busy-ness’ is authored by Satan to keep us from one of the most important facets of Catholic life: the family table.

Eat together as often as possible, but MAKE it possible to eat together often!

I have no memories whatever of family dinners or breakfasts. That 11-year-old girl knows that things should be a certain way!

And pray the Rosary together after dinner! :smiley:


#5

I knew it, too, and it always made me sad that my father would sit there at the dinner table watching the TV (which was full of depressing news about the Vietnam War at the time), telling us to shut up if we were talking. Some family-time there. :frowning: Yet, in his mind, we were having dinner together as a family, just because we were seated at the same table and eating at the same time.


#6

CarrieH - Just curious, though your father certainly was less than the ideal at the dinner table, do you think your family would have been better off just not having dinners together considering his behavior?


#7

Back when we all lived at home, dinner took two hours every night because of the rousing conversations and laughter at the table. The rule was that everybody had to be there, but exceptions were granted fairly regularly - about once or twice a week, somebody was absent from the dinner table. But with ten of us (Grandparents, parents, 4 kids, 2 cousins) it was more fun that having dinner at someone else’s place, and it still felt “together” even if someone was absent.

My best childhood memories are of the dinner table. I still love to eat with my family - it’s a shame they’re about 5000 miles away now!


#8

That’s a tough question, one I hadn’t really considered before. I guess I still support the idea of having dinner together as a family, but looking back, the reality wasn’t very pleasant. Not to dredge up ancient history or air the family’s dirty laundry, but if you had asked me when I was 10 or 11 years old, I would have rejoiced at the thought of being able to skip the family dinner, make a peanut butter sandwich, and take it to my room to eat in peace.

Proverbs 17:1 " Better a dry crust with peace than a house full of feasting with strife."

I’ll spare you the details of being criticized, mocked, and smacked at the dinner table, and suffice it to say that when the TV was on, it gave Dad something to focus on besides us kids and our imperfect table manners. OTOH, dinnertime was about the only contact I had with him because he was emotionally-absent much of the time, and if we hadn’t eaten together, we would have been almost-complete strangers living under the same roof. So I guess we were better off having dinner together in that regard. Ideally, Dad would have pulled his head out of his heinie and gotten a clue about nurturing his children, and dinnertime would have been a time of sharing and fellowship instead of a war-zone. But that didn’t happen until he became a grandfather. Better late than never, I guess. He did come to realize the error of his ways and we talked about it a number of years ago. I have forgiven him, realizing that he did what he did out of ignorance and his own sin, but it still hurts to look back on those days. And God works in mysterious ways – my father is in his mid-80’s now and is quite hard of hearing, and when we have a family dinner, he misses out on so much because he can’t hear the conversations. I wonder if he wishes he had listened,* really* listened, when he had the chance. :shrug:


#9

We usually ate alone, and in fact we were responsible for our own meals as often as not froma n early age. Mom decided we should eat dinner together sometime in my middle childhood and we tried it awhile. It was very tense. Mom snapped at us and stomped away squeaking about how crazy we drove her. We didn’t know what we had done wrong. She yelled at me for being nervous when she yelled at me. Eating was hard, having an appetite was harder, and digesting was disturbed at least. Eventually she got over her idea of these perfect family dinners she thought we had to have and we could eat again.
Still I said more than once a day. Most mothers aren’t as tense as mine was then, and most kids have a clue what their mothers want from them at the table pretty young, because they haven’t been eating alone all that time. I think I read somewhere that families that have dinner together are around half as likely to have kids who have premarital sex or get into drugs while living at home. The kids are less lonely and don’t go out and take advice from the wrong people, apparently. That’s what I hear.
But it depends on the family.


#10

Strngrnrth, your story and mine sure blow that old Norman Rockwell family dinner picture to bits, don’t they? :console:


#11

My kids are out of the house now (24 and 21).

To me, the key word is “together.”

While they were growing up, we ate a lot of meals together, but not at our house. I am a terrible cook, and I really, truly, absolutely hate cooking and I hate the cleanup even more. To me, family dinners aren’t relaxing and pleasant at all if I have to cook them. And it was no fun having the children “help”–that just made everything tenser. Besides, they were usually busy doing schoolwork or another extracurricular activity to help cook a dinner.

Both my husband and I grew up in families with dads who worked 2nd or 3rd shift, so we didn’t eat together with our families growing up. My mother was also an awful cook, so I didn’t have much of a chance to learn good cooking skills. So we kind of came into our marriage “handicapped” when it came to doing the Family Dinner Thing.

I also have memories of a very messy house, cluttered to the ceiling, which I never felt comfortable with.

Also, I played piano growing up. Usually when I got home from school, my mother would have a dinner ready for me at 3: 30 PM, then I would sit down at the piano for several hours. (My dad was at work.)

Like I said, we have never really known what Family Dinner in the Dining Room is.

Another big issue is that my daughters were (and still are) figure skaters. They practiced early in the morning (5 A.M.) and often after school, too, until around 5 P.M. I usually stayed at the rink with them; this is a debate among skating parents. If you leave them at the rink without a parent, what happens if they are injured? But if you don’t go home, who will cook and make the home nice?

I chose to stay at the rink. This meant that often, we weren’t even home until around 6 P.M., much too late for someone like me (who doesn’t cook well) to plan, cook, and clean up a dinner. Besides, the kids were starving after all that exercise in the cold.

So we ate out. A lot. Almost every night. My husband would be home from work at around six, and we would meet him at Taco Bell or Steak and Shake, and we would spend at least an hour eating together.

I know, some people ask, how did you AFFORD IT? Well, it was a priority for us. If we didn’t eat out, we didn’t eat. So we spent the money on eating out that probably would have been spent on re-doing our bathroom, new furniture, a better car, college savings account, etc. Irresponsible? Probably. But it did enable us to eat together and eat good food.

It got harder as the kids got older, because they commuted three days a week into the Big City to skate on an elite synchronized skating team. Distance one way was 65 miles. We weren’t home to cook and eat dinner together, so we actually ate a lot of our meals in the car.

Like I said, to me, the key word is “together.” We didn’t enjoy cozy family dinners around a dining room table, but we ate together. To this day, the kids say that they have great memories of eating at restaurants. The only problem is, they still do that, even though they are living on a lot less income than we have. Oh, well, they’re learning.

And I think it’s really important that none of us judge other families. Everyone’s situation is different, and some family situations make it virtually impossible to eat at home around a table. I say let’s just encourage each other to do the best we can at nurturing our families.


#12

My dh and I grew up having dinners together with our families…my dh says that being one of nine kids, and his dad being a war veteran, caused him to have little patience at the dinner table, so he ate in another room, over the years. Now, we as a family, try to eat dinner together every night, depending on my hubby’s schedule with work. Looks like his crazy night hours are through, and he will be home for dinners again–yay. I grew up in an Italian home, and pretty much the movie Moonstruck is how dinner time has always been in our household. lol Yelling, fighting, bickering, crying, laughing…you name it, it happened at the dinner table, but it was the one time where we all came together, and no matter what–we knew we were one. One family sitting down, and through it all, always managed to enjoy a good meal together.

But, not everyone’s schedules always fit the dinner time hour–many couples work night shifts…or over time…so it can be hard. But, maybe shift the meal time to breakfast or lunch, if you can…one meal a day together, if possible–it can do a family good.:slight_smile:


#13

I was just wondering why choose: “At least once a day” instead of: “More than once a day if possible”… Are they almost the same or do the people who chose “At least…” rather not do it more than once even if possible?

Anyways, growing up we always ate every dinner together, whether at my grandparents house that lived down the street or at our house. To tell you the truth it never even crossed my mind that other people didn’t do that and In fact, I even remember when I first found out that not all families at dinner together. Kind of like when I first found out that grown ups aren’t always right and don’t always do the right thing :eek: . Anyways, we would get in deep trouble if we didn’t come when my mom and/or grandma announced it was time to eat, so we were always there. It was a nice time to share with family and talk about all sorts of stuff. I think it really helps unite a family.

For breakfast everyone got up and got ready for school pretty much at the same time, so we would eat pretty much at the same time, though some would start earlier end earlier etc. Lunch we were at school, so not together, and on week-ends sometimes we ate lunch together, other times not.


#14

As often as possible. We usually have dinner together 4 to 5 days a week and have breakfast and lunch together on the weekends also. I have always tried to plan as many family dinners as possible even if it means that some nights we eat at 4:30 and others at 7.

We ate dinner together a lot growing up also. Not every night because of my dad’s schedule. There is so much research that shows how important family meals are to kids development and morals. It is also good for their health and manners!


#15

would eating together in the car after using the drive-through count?


#16

LOL :stuck_out_tongue: hahaha… I hope it does! We ate dinner in the car too sometimes hehe, that brought back memories :slight_smile:


#17

Every meal is eaten together in our home. Thank goodness. As a child I never remember ever having family meals together with my parents. I am glad to make the effort to not continue that habit.


#18

As many meals as possible should be eaten together or with as many as are home at the time. Start each meal with “Oremus” and “Prayer of Thanksgiving”. I believe it is a beautiful thing to hear my 2 year old say “oremus” before each meal.

Brandy


#19

Oooh that was always fun :slight_smile:

We eat together at least once a day. On the weekends we have all of our meals together. That’s the way it was at my house growing up. I liked when we watched TV together and eating dinner. That didn’t happen to often but it was rather cool. My dad and I would bore my mom with all of our politics :rolleyes:

On Friday we were all around the table making up rhymes after dinner around the table it was fun and better than TV:blush:


#20

Whoever is home eats in the kitchen at the designated time coordinates. Parents are not allowed to pick apart kids at the table. Kids are not allowed to be overly descriptive in their complaints about the cooking.


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