Family Dinner

When kids eat dinner with their families on a regular basis, they do better academically and socially. Tons of studies show that teens who sit down to a family dinner experiment less with drug, alcohol and sexuality than kids who don’t have family meal time.

Okay, I get it. But I have a question. While kids might do better, how are the parents doing? 

Hello! A homemade dinner is a lot of work, especially for parents who already work (or parents with Parkinson’s Disease!) And the kids are rarely grateful. (Tonite I made rice, ready-made Indian food and a salad — nothing fancy.)

I understand why lots of parents behave like the ones in the sitcom, The Middle — throwing bags of fast food to the kids who are plunked down in front of the TV. They throw each kid a bag of food as if to a lion in a cage. It’s easier. Life is hard. The kids are wild.

But they might even be wilder if they didn’t have time to unwind with some evening conversation.

Conversation does civilize kids (and adults). Dinner is the only time to talk without an agenda. Tonite Hayden’s friend was over. We talked about book clubs, Shake Shack, snow days, how hard history is. We talked about puns like, “If your nose runs and your feet smell, you must’ve been built upside down.”

I did get ticked off during dinner when Hayden’s phone beeped with text alerts, but he threw it on the couch before I had time to snatch his cell phone away. And that’s what dinner is, too, time snatched away — stolen from time we’d spend on the computer or in front of TV.

It’s worth it. I think. Yet, making family meal time work is a lot of work.