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Family Dinners

by Louise | October 25th, 2010 | Teens

As my sisters and I went from pre-school to elementary school, then middle school and high school, our family dynamics were constantly changing, because our schedules kept needing adjustments and additions. First, we all took the same ballet and tap courses, but I soon switched to gymnastics. Add soccer and music lessons into the mix, and you can see how my family’s schedule started breaking apart as my sisters and I picked up different activities; it’s inevitable for any family. However, one aspect of our day that we kept consistent for as long as we could was our family dinners.

It has been shown that children who come from families who maintain a “family dinner” tend to be healthier, happier, and better students. The key to a successful family dinner is setting a time and trying to stick to it as much as possible. This time might not be the same for every day of the week. Naturally, there will end up being exceptions for special occasions: schedule conflicts that leave no reasonable time slot for everyone to dine together, a child is staying at a friend’s house for the meal, or a parent has other dinner obligations. It’s okay to allow these exceptions to happen, but it’s important to regard them as that: exceptions.

Not only is it good to consistently eat together, but also to develop a routine, just like saying good night each evening. I bet each family member already has a certain seat at the table; you can also create a “script” to say before your family starts the meal. This might be a religious saying, or simply a time to allow every family member to share one unique thing he or she did or learned that day. My family used to link hands and sing an old Dutch tune, which was to the melody of Frère Jacques (also known as “Brother John”). We stopped doing this perhaps when I was in middle school, and it seems “lame” when I describe it, but I honestly miss it. Bring back family dinners!

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