It’s a given that everyone is busy in our culture, from kindergartener’s who arrive home with homework in their backpacks, to teenagers focused on social media, to working parents who are expected to check email during their “family” time in the evenings. If your family struggles to connect, think about instituting family dinners. Taking a half hour or more to share not only a meal but also part of one another’s day can have a great impact on strengthening your bonds.
What You’ll Gain
According to the Family Dinner Project, your kids will reap major benefits from family meals including doing better in school, increased self-esteems, and a stronger feeling of stability. Gathering your tribe together has been shown to decrease several problems – including risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy and depression. And becoming comfortable eating together helps lower the chance of your child developing an eating disorder or becoming obese.
A Columbia University study found that teens who participate in more frequent family dinners compared to those who dine together less than three times per week, are less likely to try drugs. Nearly three-quarters of the teens surveyed said family meals are important to them. And teens who share less frequent family meals are twice as likely to use tobacco and alcohol and 1.5 times more likely to use marijuana.
Food is Secondary
One thing you don’t want to do is stress about preparing a time-consuming meal. Keep it simple with basic recipes that are popular with your family. And on busy weeks, consider ordering takeout from a local restaurant. After all, the food is not the most important part of a family dinner – family is.
Engage your family in preparing the meal to expand your time together in an informal and relaxed way. This is also a good opportunity for your children to learn some cooking skills and tasks like how to set a proper table and participate in clean up.
Sharing a meal also gives family members an opportunity to talk about what is going on in their lives. Offering solutions informally, is a passive action that helps model for kids how they can communicate effectively and problem solve.
Dialing It In
If your family is particularly busy you might want to Skype missing members in or have them call in on speaker phone. Let technology be your family friend and bring you together, as opposed to creating obstacles between you. For those present, make phones off limits, or at least limit their use, during table time and focus on one another.
Food in the Spotlight
If you have the time, cooking a meal together will deepen your family connections. Homemade meals make it easier to instill portion control, make for better nutritional choices, give your kids an opportunity to discover new foods, and manage weight. Take your meal nights a step further and shop together at the food market. Allow your kids to choose what they want to eat and teach them how to shop for food. A side benefit will be saving money from less frequent meals being eaten in restaurants.
With over 1,600 designs and unique features, C.A. Jones has a housing option to fit every family. And our kitchen and dining configurations help provide an inviting place for your family to gather.
Launched in 1995 by Chris Jones, C.A. Jones is the only woman-centric builder in Southern Illinois. Our roots are in Southwestern Illinois, in several communities in Madison County. We have expanded south to build “express homes” in new communities in St. Clair and Montgomery counties. Contact us today to learn how we can design and build a kitchen for you that will increase family connections and enhance your family’s bond. We are ranked among the Top 15 largest home builders by St. Louis Business Journal. Our forward-thinking philosophy, business integrity and superior customer service make us the right choice to build your next home.