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Old 09-24-2006, 11:29 AM
 
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The family dinnertable. I have seen on TV where they are having a "Family Dinner Night" nationwide and are encouraging families to have dinner together as this is becoming a thing of the past. We were discussing this at lunch when the principals were complaining about the kids behaving so badly. Some of the teachers feel it is because they no longer eat as a family and are not taught manners. On TV, I saw a doctor talking about how this is so important now, because families spend time in the home but not together. They are on cell phones, computers, laptops, mp3 players, etc. but not together and communicating.

What do you think? Is the family dinner table important?

Here is my opinion: I think it is important for families to spend time together and really talk and connect to each other and keep up with each others' lives. But I do not think it has to be done over dinner. But I do know that for some families, dinner might be the only way, place or time to make this happen. So I believe it can be a great experience for kids and families and should be done on a regular basis.


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Old 09-24-2006, 12:29 PM
 
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I think the family dinner table is very important. I'd also add that I think one of the reasons behavior has gone down is because fewer families attend religious sevices together. I think anything where multiple generations sit down together and the kids are expected to maintain a certain level of decorum so the activity can continue is a good thing. I think there are a lot of kids who don't have this expectation put on them - ever.
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Old 09-24-2006, 12:52 PM
 
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When I was growing up, it was rare when we were together for meals. We were together for breakfast, Dad came home for lunch (although I was only there on holidays/summers), and we were together for supper.

My mom stayed home, and I was the only child, so I guess it was easier. My friends were always amazed that my mom cooked "real meals" for every meal. We always ate in the living room, and there was no television/radio/etc. allowed. I think it's really important to have that time together.
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Old 09-24-2006, 12:57 PM
 
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Growing up, we always ate dinner together. Even when my mom worked outside the home and got home later (around 7:30), we would sit with her and talk, since we had already eaten what my dad (WONDERFUL COOK) or I had cooked. My sister is not big on cooking. Now, we do the same thing in our household. Some nights my husband has to work later; my son and I eat together and talk and later sit with him as he eats. The funny thing is, with sitting down together twice, we always think of things that had happened during the day that we hadn't though of.

We need a time to reconnect and practice our manners in private before venturing out in public. I believe that it is very important to the family, but it can be tweaked to fit your family's needs.

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Old 09-24-2006, 01:06 PM
 
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Growing up we always ate dinner at the table, but I have no feelings towards that one way or the other. In our own household we almost never eat at the dinner table together in our own home. It's usually because my wife and I are each trying our own diet solution and are cooking different things at different times. On Wednesdays all the family meets at my MIL's house for dinner. We're all at the table then. And of course we eat together when we're out at restaurants. I admit that I often think that we should do the togetherness thing, but we don't.


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Old 09-24-2006, 01:56 PM
 
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I have high school kids and dinner is the one place when they let their guard down and tell us everything. I have dinner ready at 6:15... my one son is done with football practice and he's starved. The adults start talking about our day and ask about practice and school and soon we're getting caught up with one another. Teachable moment after teachable moment comes up. Kids talk about friends who've made a bad decision and we talk about it and reinforce our values. There's no real lecturing going on. And I have all boys so conversation actually gets pretty competitive. It's been this way since they were little. It's funny and we're relaxed even though we all have meetings and work to get caught up with that night. I can't stress more the importance of family dinner.
 
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good idea.
Old 09-24-2006, 01:56 PM
 
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It surely can't hurt! I am big on the family dinner thing...though with my husbands schedule it is often my son and myself for dinner. We did this growing up and I think it is important. A lot of times it is easier for us to do a family breakfast (over cereal) than anything else.

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Old 09-24-2006, 02:02 PM
 
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important. When I was growing up, my family and I always had dinner together. My mom never worked and took great pride in having a huge, delicious dinner on the table for all of us. I took that with me and wanted the same for my family. When my sons were growing up-we all sat down together regardless of the activities going on....we still do. While I don't have time to make huge meals during the week-we still sit down together.
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Old 09-24-2006, 02:26 PM
 
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While I don't have kids of my own yet, when I do, I plan to do the family dinner thing. My family always sat down together each night to eat dinner, at the table with the TV off. I think that so many of our kids today are missing out on the art of how to carry on a conversation, use good table manners, etc. and all of that can be modeled and taught by a family eating together.
 
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Old 09-24-2006, 02:44 PM
 
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We eat out several times a week and we sit together talking. Sometimes the kids are more interested in the playplace if one exists than sitting with their dad and me. I try to cook at least 2-3 a week for the whole family and on Thursdays, I eat with the kids, but my DH is bowling. I spend a lot of time with the kids besides at the dinner table. I read with them several nights a week. I drive them to and from school too. I think time in the car is a good time to bond with kids, especially tweens and teens. Turn off the radio, take off headphones, and have a real conversation every day!

If I were a SAHM, I'd probably cook more, but with my job and the extra-curricular activities, it's hard to find time to cook and clean. It doesn't mean I can't spend time talking with my family though.


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Yes it is important
Old 09-24-2006, 04:27 PM
 
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I think it is definitely invaluable. When you have dinner on the table every night it means you are consistent and that family values matter. You come together every night, eat together, learn manners, learn the art of conversation, and learn that this is one of many times you will come together to be part of a family unit. If families are not coming together for dinner every night, why not? What are they doing intead?

Also, Ruby, while this is a great debate, I am confused about your comment so I was hoping that you could explain more? I underlined where I found your comments confusing. You are on both sides in the same post.

Quote:
I think it is important for families to spend time together and really talk and connect to each other and keep up with each others' lives. But I do not think it has to be done over dinner. But I do know that for some families, dinner might be the only way, place or time to make this happen. So I believe it can be a great experience for kids and families and should be done on a regular basis.
Do you think it is important or not?
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Old 09-24-2006, 05:31 PM
 
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"I drive them to and from school too. I think time in the car is a good time to bond with kids, especially tweens and teens. Turn off the radio, take off headphones, and have a real conversation every day!"

I find that my older boys (14 and 11) are more apt to talk to me about things that are bothering them when we are driving. I think it is less intimidating. I can't stare right at them as I am driving and they can't take off anywhere. They are a captive audience!
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Old fashioned family here
Old 09-24-2006, 05:46 PM
 
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We still have family dinner time at least 5 nights a week. I feel it is very important as a family to connect for that 30-45 minutes a day. OTherwise the teens get lost in their own world "ie computer or video games" and would never emerge.
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every night!
Old 09-24-2006, 05:53 PM
 
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We have always done this in our household. We rarely ever eat out, and I love to cook, so dinner time is important. It's important to just sit and talk with one another and relax after a long day. Our last child is almost 18 and we still do this with him. Our friends sometimes think we're weird because we prefer to eat at home instead of going out. But it is valuable time together and we have great conversations about all kinds of things. I think kids today are missing out by not having this time with their parents. Everything is fast, easy, out of a box nowadays. I like to keep a little of the "old days".
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Old 09-24-2006, 06:15 PM
 
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I agree with QW. We ALWAYS eat dinner together. Sometimes my daughter has play practice and is not there, and sometimes I don't get dinner cooked in time for the boys before scouts, but other than that, we eat together ALWAYS!!

My son had a friend over to spend the night on Saturday, and I cooked steak on the grill, roasted potatoes, and corn. (nothing great, just the usual).

The friend said he did not like steak, and he had no idea what a roasted potato was. I made him try it of course!! I asked him what kind of potatoes his mom fixed, and he said "oh, we don't do home cooked meals" I said "What do you do?" He said "canned stuff like raviolis, sandwiches and soup and stuff like that"

Anyway, he wasn't thrilled with the potatoes, but he did have 3 helpings of steak!!

It's sad that families not only don't sit and eat together, but also don't cook at all!! That may also be a reason why obesity is rampant in today's day and age!!
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Old 09-24-2006, 07:07 PM
 
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It is admirable that several of you cook meals for the family most evenings. I can't leave my job until 3:45, then I need to get my kids and it's 4 at the soonest that I arrive at their school. Two days a week they have soccer practice from 5-6 or 6:30. My kids go to bed with the lights out at 8:00, and that is a pretty rigid rule at my house--we don't stay up late eating or cooking or cleaning or brushing teeth because children need rest. On Wednesday, we all eat at church and the kids have a program they attend on that night that lasts until 6:30. We really like to eat at a salad bar on Monday evenings when it's half price (after soccer). I usually make something like hamburger helper or chicken helper on Tuesday nights, but sometimes we order pizza. I make a can of soup (my kids have only just discovered canned soup!) on Thursday evenings after soccer practice, but my DH fends for himself that night because he's bowling. We go out on Fridays and crash early because we are TIRED!! I usually cook or grill out on Saturday, and maybe fix something light on Sunday because we always meet friends and eat out on Sundays after church. I don't have a dish washer either and my stove is not the greatest. I want to remodel my kitchen but am not up to it right now (have any of you ever dealt with contractors?)

I do value eating with my family at the dinner table, but except for the summer and holidays, I don't regularly dice, slice, cook, or clean.
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Old 09-24-2006, 07:38 PM
 
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When you have dinner on the table every night it means you are consistent and that family values matter. You come together every night, eat together, learn manners, learn the art of conversation, and learn that this is one of many times you will come together to be part of a family unit. If families are not coming together for dinner every night, why not? What are they doing intead?

Consistency? What do you mean by this?

Family values? How do you define family values? And is your cultural definition of family values somehow better than my cultural definition?

Learning manners? Which manners are you speaking of? I know lots of families that eat together and their children don't even come close to my expectation of manners.

The art of conversation? Am I to assume that families do not talk to each other unless they're gathered at the table and eating? How sad is that? Those families have bigger issues than simply gathering together for dinner.

Why are families not coming to together for dinner every night? Because the era of Leave it to Beaver has come and gone.

What are they doing instead? How about Mom and Dad working full-time jobs and going to school in the evenings. How about a Dad doing homework at the same time his son is doing his. How about a Mother staying late at school trying to prepare for the next day and still bringing home a sh!tload of work to do. How about children that would like to participate in social activities at school and with friends and the parents that try to encourage that. How about parents that don't live there lives by the latest sound bite or political trend and instead do what they can to try and be together as a family.
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Dear, dear Mrs. Eastcoast....
Old 09-24-2006, 07:57 PM
 
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Why must you twist around everything I post? If you don't like my posts, please don't read them.


To clarify, I think it is important for families to connect. If it is done over dinner, it is great and should be repeated as much as possible. But I do not think it is NECCESSARY to have food in front of you to connect and talk. We do not have the family dinner table in my house. But we manage to sit and talk and visit everyday without it. Some families might need the dinner to bring everyone together. I said it CAN be a great experience, not that it HAS to be done in every family.
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Old 09-25-2006, 03:56 AM
 
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One thing that has not been said is that food has a very important place in our lives. Sure, connecting in the car is great (my son likes to give us a snapshot of his day there), but there is something special about gathering around a table and sharing food.

Perhaps because we all ate dinner together when I was little (and Mom and Dad were together) but my Mom, who is a nurse, could not always eat with us in the evenings when she was a single mom, I give it more importance.

However, think about it...how many important celebrations do you have that include food. Do you regularly celebrate anything that does not include food?

I enjoy sitting around a table with my family. It is also here that we get into deep discussions sometimes with our 6yo (Daddy, why do we pray?). I also think people tend to eat healthier if they eat at home. I know that's true for me.

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Old 09-25-2006, 02:49 PM
 
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I guess it surprises me to find out that people don't eat at the kitchen table. I grew up doing that and I don't have a family of my own yet, but I plan for my kids to grow up eating at the table. Now, on that note: I'm not saying we cook a lot, but my parents have a store and we all sit down together and eat our take out, or sit at the dining room table when we have a chance to not be at our store. We never really eat in our rooms or in the living room. I don't see anything wrong with eating out (you are still sitting at a table talking), but I can see the positive in eating together. A lot of talking does take place. I didn't realize that other families did not do this on a regular basis. I guess most of my friends growing up also ate at the table together.
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We always ate at the table....
Old 09-25-2006, 03:46 PM
 
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......no TV, no radio, just conversation. Every once in a while, we would eat in the living room, but this was rare and usually when we ordered pizza and got a movie.

My fiance and I sit together and eat dinner every night, and I think it's very important. I make full dinners each night, because I love to cook and I know he enjoys coming home to a good dinner. Also, it's healthier and cheaper than eating out all the time.

I agree that family dinners are extremely important. No, they're not the only way to connect. But they are a very good way to do so.
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Important
Old 09-25-2006, 03:51 PM
 
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I think eating together is extremely important- that is if the tv is off and you are actually connecting. Growing up we ate dinner together every night- no tv or phone. My mom and dad both worked, but they somehow found the time to cook. I think this time together is extremely important and also plan to carry this on when I have a family of my own. My friends growing up who also ate dinner together still have the same family values. The ones that didn't are very disconnected and very invlolved in their own lives and not the lives of others. That's not to say you cannot have family values if you don't eat together, but it definitly helps!
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very important
Old 09-25-2006, 05:11 PM
 
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I think that eating together/spending time together is very important. My family used to eat together every day. Dinner was around 5:15/5:30 and no phone calls were allowed between 5 and 6 and all our friends knew it! If other plans got in the way (meetings, etc) we'd rearrange dinner time as best we could or schedule other activities around dinner.

I still remember things that happened at the family table. When we (my sister and I) were learnign to count change dad would slam the change from his pocket on the table and we couldn't leave until we counted it! We quickly learned that education was important to our parents. The first question out of my father's mouth at the dinner table was "What did you do in school today?" We knew that my dad did not do well in school but we knew that he wanted better for us to learn all we could. It was a pain in High school because we'd have to go through each period (9) and by the time we were done, our food would be cold! At least my sister and I took turns going first. It was a nice time and even though my parents have relaxed a bit and put the tv on during dinner now, it's still quality time together.
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Old 09-25-2006, 05:21 PM
 
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"Consistency? What do you mean by this?" When I say consistent, I just mean that every night, family makes it a point to come to the table - children know what to expect, it is a time to look forward to. It is done every possible night. There are many positive end results.

Family values? How do you define family values? And is your cultural definition of family values somehow better than my cultural definition? I don't know if your values are the same or not. What are your values? Mine are parents being there for their children, teaching them right and wrong, communicating on a regular basis about important things, being positive role models (consistency, discipline, responsibility) and spending time with them - not going out of your way to spend time w/ your kids, but actually being there as a functioning member of a family (I am envisioning that dad who wears a 3 piece suit to bed practically, who is rarely home before the kids go to bed, who doesn't "do stuff" around the house because he is so busy) - every weekend, we all (me, my sisters, my parents) helped to clean the house. We all had different tasks. Every fall we all raked and piled up and bagged leaves, we all shoveled in winter, cleaned the yard in spring, cleaned the pool and cut grass in the summer. we vacationed a lot together throughout our state, we watched movies together, my sisters and I went on errands w/ our dad all the time. I could go on and on. I spent so much time w/ my family growing up. It was always predictable. Now families are rush rush rush, all the time. I am not saying it is their fault. That is just the way it is, unfortunately.


Learning manners? Which manners are you speaking of? I know lots of families that eat together and their children don't even come close to my expectation of manners. I think those families are doing a lot of things wrong if their children do not behave at the dinner table. I'm always intrigued when I observe children w/ their parents in a restaurant and they have NO idea how to act at the table and their parents either ignore it or don't notice (which do you think is worse? They are both pretty bad.). The dinner table is an ideal place to learn manners, turn taking, and conversation. Is it the only way? Well, no ... obviously not, but again, it is an ideal situation when done on a predictable schedule.

The art of conversation? Am I to assume that families do not talk to each other unless they're gathered at the table and eating? How sad is that? Those families have bigger issues than simply gathering together for dinner. I reiterate what I said above about it not being the only way but an ideal situation.

Why are families not coming to together for dinner every night? Because the era of Leave it to Beaver has come and gone. Sadly, yes. Both parents work and often heavy hours. Kids are inundated w/ after school activities, I know many children who have something to do every day after school (soccer, baseball, brownies, dance, horseback riding, karate, piano .... ), both parents and kids are exahausted, homework gets managed but it's not easy certainly, and there is little time for order - when I think of people's lives, I think of chaos. It's kind of scary, actually.

What are they doing instead? How about Mom and Dad working full-time jobs and going to school in the evenings. How about a Dad doing homework at the same time his son is doing his. How about a Mother staying late at school trying to prepare for the next day and still bringing home a sh!tload of work to do. How about children that would like to participate in social activities at school and with friends and the parents that try to encourage that. How about parents that don't live there lives by the latest sound bite or political trend and instead do what they can to try and be together as a family. What on earth are you talking about?

Anyway, clearly we disagree, and that's fine. But I do stand by my position on this.

Last edited by Mrs.EastCoast; 09-25-2006 at 05:30 PM..
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Old 09-25-2006, 06:53 PM
 
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What on earth are you talking about?

I'm talking about life and the situations that define it Mrs.E. Specifically mine. As for the comment about sound bites and political trends - it's all about the media. Thirty-second blurbs designed to make us feel inadequate about our lives regardless of validity.
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Old 09-25-2006, 07:22 PM
 
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I'm with you Hifiman, that dwelling on eating at a table is being overemphasized as the ideal. I consider the advice to eat meals with your kids advice for people who have some dysfunction that needs repair and the simplest way to begin is to schedule family dinners. I have heard talking heads on TV tell people who are clueless about family dynamics to begin by eating together. This is simplistic advice.

I am not saying it isn't a great idea, but it is not the only great idea.

I don't want to rile Mrs E., but I don't think she is actually a mom yet and only imagines how a family dynamic really is based on her own childhood.

I had togetherness with my own parents and regular meals at table, but they still divorced. At times the tension was so great at that dinner table that it was hard to enjoy Mom's great cooking. It is not some kind of panacea to eat together, although I acknowledge that it is a good idea and a nice habit to acquire.

When our family is all together at mealtimes, we certainly share the meal--I don't believe in kids having a TV in their rooms and excessive isolation. I also don't allow eating in bedrooms anyway. Because our family dynamic is so strong and loving I don't feel like I have to make a point of sharing meals with my kids to ensure its continuity, although typically we do eat together at a table somewhere.
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Old 09-25-2006, 09:09 PM
 
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One reason actually sharing dinner together is important (rather than other family time) is that studies have shown that families who eat together have healthier diets than those who don't. While many families certainly manage to have healthful meals without eating them together, those who do eat as a family are less likely to suffer from obesity, eating disorders, and other dietary issues. I'm not stating a personal opinion; I'm merely repeating what I have read.

My son is only 2, so we don't yet have very profound conversations, but I wish we could eat as a family. Unfortunately, my husband is away all week and home only on the weekends. He does sometimes come home in the middle of the week, but he gets here just in time to put our son to bed, not in time to eat with us. I hope that by the time our son is in school, my husband will have found a different profession that does not require so much travel.
 
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Thank Goodness, Hif ...
Old 09-26-2006, 02:17 PM
 
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because for a minute there, I thought you were on a rant. The rest of your post was great, asked a lot of questions I was more than happy to answer for you. As for your sound bite thing ... whatever, I have no idea what you are referring to, I am not a media junkie.

Fun Friend ... nope not a mother yet ... I fail to see what that has to do w/ anything. It is a weak argument at best. I eat dinner w/ my husband every night, and plan to do the same thing when we have kids. Why must parents always play the "I am better than you and know more than you because I have kids" card? It's like a pooping contest. You don't know me ... so how would you have any idea what my life is going to be like when I have kids? For your information, I am hoping to stay at home when I have kids. So ... my bet that we'll be having dinner every night is a good one.

Furthermore, I stated that eating dinner as a family is not the only way to achieve togetherness and values ... it is but one way. I am sorry your parents divorced. I don't see the connection between dinner and divorce though.

In any case, I gave my opinion, take it or leave it. I stand by it. And I will be having family dinner each night. I believe in it. I also believe in the following: NO tv or computers in bedrooms, weekly chores, a consistent bedtime, and a curfew. Do I believe in these things also because I have no kids yet?

Last edited by Mrs.EastCoast; 09-26-2006 at 02:25 PM..
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Dinner = Family Time :)
Old 09-26-2006, 04:03 PM
 
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Hey everyone,
Before I begin, I just want to say that I value everyone's opinion even if it differs from my own! Speaking from personal experience, my family always had dinner together - every night. When I was a child and wanted to go to a friend's house for dinner, I was often told "no" as it was considered time for the family to talk and not just eat. I didn't get it at the time, but I do now, and will definitely be following the same routine with my own kids when I have them! I agree with those of you who said that the routine part is important as it provides boundaries that will make children feel safe. I think it is definitely an important routine to establish early on with young children because as they mature and become older, it becomes more difficult to find times to talk in a neutral setting. If talking about school and other important issues is a built in routine at the dinner table, children won't feel like they are being pushed into a corner when a concern rises that needs to be addressed.
Thanks for listening!
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Family Dinner each night
Old 09-26-2006, 06:47 PM
 
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DH, DD and I have dinner together each night. Some nights it's later than other nights (DD has tennis 4:40-6:00 T, W, Th), so we use the crockpot a lot. We eat out 1x a week, & have pizza 1x a week. I enjoy cooking and even did it when I was single more than 2 decades ago. We have a lot of good discussions & sharing at dinner time. At that time, homwork, papers, etc. can't intrude on us. DD has learned manners, not to monopolize the conversation, and what's polite conversation, as well as trying new foods. There will probably come a time when our schedules won't allow this as much, but for now, we're sticking with it!!
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wow fun friend!!
Old 09-28-2006, 03:59 PM
 
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You sound like you have a really busy schedule!!

I know how everyone feels about how it's just not easy now a days eating dinner together all the time.

I agree with Toni, we have crock pot meals or leftovers MANY times!!

In my house having dinner together is more a habit than anything else. I also don't get home from work till about 4:30, depending on the night, there is usually something going on.

Mondays and Wednesdays are our worst.

Like I said, I try to have dinner on our table every night as a habit. Sometimes my daughter isn't there...MOST times my husband isn't there (he travels 2-3 days per week), and sometimes my parents aren't there. Sometimes it's just my dad eating with my 2 boys. (My parents live with my husband and I)

I don't pass judgement on people who can't eat together, I just find it's a routine for me to do it.

I do get annoyed with children who can't behave at a restaurant, however. Church too for that matter. I'll never forget my husband making my son kneel for 30 minutes one Sunday after church because he didn't behave at church. My parents thought he was the biggest child abuser ever, but since that day, he has always behaved in church.

It's sad to see children in church who are actually older than my 7 year old who bring toys, or gameboys, or can't behave in church. Oh well, I'm rambling.

Anyway, I bought these great chicken cutlets already marinated, so sometimes when I get home I just have to grill them for a couple minutes each side, throw on a frozen veggie, and cook up some minute rice!!!

Crockpots are a Godsend also!!!
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