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Do mealtimes matter?
Parenting Power Admin March 2, 2017 No Comments

Do mealtimes matter?

Making Time to Connect #RealTime

Our theme this month is TIME – making the time to connect with your family and with yourself. The #RealTime we are talking about today is mealtime.

Does it matter?

It really does.

Dinnertime is about so much more than food. Perhaps we have forgotten this as a society and it is time that we remember. Family meals are about connecting with each other, learning how conversation works (one person talks and we wait/listen, then it is our turn,) learning manners, and learning self-control (not banging the fork up and down). Family meals are valuable.

This is real life and one thing that family meals aren’t is perfect. The food is rarely perfect, people might be grumpy or tired, one or more children may end up in the bathroom for part of it (ah, the digestive system…)

While they aren’t perfect, they have been called Miraculous Meals by Laurie David in one of our favourite books, The Family Dinner.

“Test after test have all reached the same conclusion: Children who have regular dinners together with their parents do better in almost all areas of life, from higher grades in school, to maintaining loving relationships, to staying healthy, safe and out of trouble. Family meals have more to do with adolescents’ self-esteem, confidence and other positive outcomes than do income levels, after-school activities, family structure (one parent or two), or regular attendance at church. That’s right, from drugs to alcohol to smoking to promiscuity, studies show that the simple habit of family dinner helps lower the odds of your kids diving off perilous behavioral cliffs.”
So what’s happened to Family Meals?

Why have they stopped being a ‘thing?’

Michael Pollen, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma says,

“People say they don’t have time to cook, yet in the last few years we have found an extra two hours a day for the internet.”

Perhaps it is the busy schedules or it is just ‘easier’ to let everyone eat on their own. By dinnertime, everyone’s tired and hungry – rather than requiring our toddlers or preschoolers to sit and eat with family at the table, it’s easier to let them run around or just eat with an iPad. Rather than requiring our teens to sit with us, it’s easier to let them take food their room or downstairs where they can eat in peace.

While it may be easier in the short term, the resulting behaviours may be a lot harder to face as a parent. Drug/alcohol abuse, obesity and a variety of other challenges are correlated with not eating dinner as a family. We’ve seen this in the stats, and we’ve seen/heard it first hand from parents right here in Calgary.

This week, ask yourself these questions:

Where does mealtime fit among your family’s priorities?

Does your child expect to eat as a family on a regular basis?

Does your family spend #RealTime around the meal table?

If you want help making changes, we are here for you.

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You can spend #RealTime when you#EatTogether:

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