April 21, 2024



By Carmen Greger

Sitting together at the dinner table for family dinners has been a long-standing tradition in many cultures. The experience provides an opportunity for family members to come together, share a meal, and engage in conversation. While it may seem like a simple act, the benefits of having regular family dinners can be far-reaching.

As family members gather around the table and ‘break bread’, they have a chance to connect with each other on a deeper level, which strengthens family bonds. They can share stories about their day, discuss their feelings, and learn more about each other’s lives. This can help foster a sense of closeness and belonging among family members, which is especially important for children who are still developing a sense of identity.

Family dinners naturally promote better health for all involved. Eating together as a family can encourage healthier eating habits. When families eat together, they are more likely to eat more slowly, choose healthier foods, consume more fruits and vegetables and be more mindful about nutrition, as well as being organically present with proper etiquette and table manners.

This can be a great way to instill healthy, mindful eating habits in children and can also help parents to stay on track with their own sense of presence, priorities, and wellness goals.

It is a wonderful, inspiring and productive experience for family members to prepare healthy homemade food together; the culinary  experience is creative, fun and eventful and the recipes are endless!  Setting and clearing the table, as well as helping with washing the dishes teaches instills worth and teaches kids skills, confidence and responsibility.

If home cooking is simply too time consuming due to modern day school-work-life demands, don’t skip out on the sit down meal! Set the table and dish out the takeout. Family Sushi Night is a weekly go-to for many!

Taking a pause daily, or as many times during the week as possible, for a routine sit-down family meal provides a much-needed break from technology. In today’s fast-paced, overwhelming digital age, it can be easy to get caught up in screens and devices.

However, by setting aside time to have family dinners, family members can unplug and focus on each other instead. This can be especially important for children, who certainly need (and will likely even appreciate) a break from the constant stimulation of social media and video games.

Table dinners can provide a great opportunity for families to have meaningful conversations about important topics. Here are a few ideas:

Goals and aspirations: Ask each family member to share their goals and aspirations. This can be a great way to learn more about each other and can help parents to support their children in achieving their dreams.

Current events: Discussing current events can be a great way to keep up with what’s happening in the world and can help children develop critical thinking skills. Encourage each family member to share their opinions and perspectives.

School and work: It’s nice to have a relaxed safe space to mindfully share any progress or obstacles incurred that day, whether it be a child informing the parents about the A+ on the social studies test, the great soundtrack mom listened to in the traffic jam on the way to work or the courageous decision that Jonny made to try out for the school play rather than the baseball team.

Family history: Sharing family history can help children feel more connected to their heritage and can be a great way to pass down family traditions and stories.

Arts & Entertainment: A family favorite! Talk about your favorite singer, or a movie you are all excited to see, or what famous person you would want at the dinner table with you that night and what questions would you ask?

Gratitude: Take a moment to express gratitude for the good things in your life. This can be a great way to foster a sense of appreciation and can help family members focus on the positive.

Family values: Use mealtime to discuss the values that are important to your family. This can help children understand what’s important to their family and can provide a foundation for their own values and beliefs.

The value of connection and bond strengthening between family members is of incalculable worth and for countless reasons. To amplify the benefit, consciously bring these conversations to car rides too!  An in-auto ‘device-free zone’ rule is a great way to establish continued, clear and constructive connection! Suggestion? Volunteer to be carpool parent as often as possible; the conversations and interactions of your loved ones and their friends are truly enlightening; absolutely priceless.

Thankfully Family QT is re-trending as a hot topic, demonstrating the heightened awareness of the need to prioritize healthy and consistent connection and communication within the family, as it is in essence the soil from which the seed will grow.  The more enriched the soil, the more opportunity for healthy growth and thriving lives.

Not only does this healthy environment provide the opportunity for developing, amplifying and integrating the positive, it also serves to dilute or negate the potential negatives that could have otherwise occurred as a result of the lack of the blessing of unshakeable quality family connection, such as isolation leading to loneliness and progressing into depression, or pent up pain presenting as anger and evolving into destructive behavior.  We will explore the preventative aspects of Family QT more in depth in a future article.

Regular family dinners can have a wide range of benefits for both children and adults. From strengthening family bonds to promoting healthier eating habits to enhancing a sense of grounding, belonging, worth and self-confidence, the benefits of family dinners are countless and impactful and go way beyond the boundaries of the dinner table.