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Family Dinner Night

Updated on February 25, 2013
Family dinner nights can become a family tradition or just a time to reconnect with our kids when our lives get too busy.
Family dinner nights can become a family tradition or just a time to reconnect with our kids when our lives get too busy. | Source

By Joan Whetzel

Many families these days seem to operate on hectic schedules. Always running off to PTA meetings, soccer practice, cheerleading competitions, and… It gets so a family hardly has time to see each other anymore. Family dinner night, is one way to keep in touch with each other. It doesn't have to be difficult to arrange or involve an expensive, fancy meal. Burgers or fried chicken will do just as good as a full Thankgsgiving turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

Choose a Day

First, choose one day of the week. It could even be Saturday or Sunday lunch, right after religious services. It could be Thursday night supper - the one night when nobody has anything going on. It doesn't matter when the chosen day is, just choose one. Make it the same day every week, and make sure everyone shows up. This is your time to reconnect. It's an opportunity to share the meal planning and preparation (The kids may be more enthusiastic, and more likely to show up, if they get some say in the meal planning and preparation). Besides if the kids learn how to cook in the process, they'll pick up a valuable life skill for when they move out on their own. Some day.

What to Make

If your family has some favorite foods, try to include them. No, all the favorites don't have to show up on the table at one time, but do try to get something on the table that they like. Teach the kids how to make their favorites, they'll appreciate it later. If the meal time feels like it's getting stuck in a rut, add a new menu item from time to time as an accompaniment to the foods they like. Pretty soon, the new items will become favorites too. Also try to keep it a balanced meal (all the food groups) as much as possible. You want to keep your family healthy too. If time is limited this week, it's okay to order in Chinese or KFC or Pizza.

Family Discussion

Don't make the discussions serious, and no punishments are to be doled out. If you need to have a private conversation with one of your family members, save it for a later, when you can actually have a private conversation. Make family dinners a time for positive family discussion. After all, you want to make this a positive experience so they all want to keep coming back to the family table. Ask questions like what did you do today? And respectfully listen to everyone's answer. Start off the conversation by telling what you did today. Tell jokes or "a funny thing happened…" stories. Talk about future plans (vacations, weddings, Janie's starring role in the school play, Johnny's graduation) or anything you'd like to do some time in the future.

This is not an obligation, but it should be a priority. Making time for family now, sets a good example for your kids, gives them a family value that they will want to hang on to when their kids start growing up. They'll remember the fun times around the family dinner table, and want to continue the tradition.


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    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA

      I firmly believe in the importance of family dinners! When my children were growing up, it was an unwritten rule that everyone be there at dinner time. The tv was off and we ate together at the table. When my children were grown, we had family dinners at our house on Saturday or Sunday afternoons with as many family members as could be there. Although we now live in several different states, we all treasure those memories and times together.

    • joanwz profile image

      Joan Whetzel 6 years ago from Katy, Texas

      LadyLyell, My family ate together every night when I was groing up too. And it did make us closer. tried to do this with my own kids as they were groing up. It worked most of the time. But there were nights when we couldn't do the family dinner because of school activities or some other time commitment. I too hate the lure of the television that separates families and eliminates the need to talk to each other.

    • LadyLyell profile image

      LadyLyell 6 years ago from George, South Africa

      Now this is my way of thinking!

      It was as normal as 'day is day' and 'night is night' that our family sat at the dinner table every night to eat together and as the children never knew any different there was never a debate on this. I started this from an early age as I could imagine this too hard to break in in later years. I strongly oppose this bad habit people have of eating in front of the TV, no one talking to each other, and food all over the place. We were a close knit family and I attribute this to our routine.

    • joanwz profile image

      Joan Whetzel 6 years ago from Katy, Texas

      Doing the family meal as often as possible is the important thing. It may not always be every week.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      We try to have a nice Sunday dinner at the dining room table. I used to insist on it when the boys were smaller but now it is difficult to do, now that they are older. But when possible we still try.