5 Ways Family Dinners Unite Families
The week before Easter is celebrated by many as Holy Week, and many celebrate with the gathering of friends and family sharing meals and their faith. The family gatherings during Holy Week are important to helping families connect with their faith and encourage unity, but the sharing dinner is important to all families in all seasons. Pope Francis recently encouraged families to share dinner with each other instead of their smart phone, which is good advice for all of us. In our busy, overextended lives, it may be easier to grab fast food or let everyone eat on their own, but this would be a huge loss for family communication and inclusion. A leading cause of mental health disease is isolation and the loss of connection. Family dinners require everyone to participate and be accountable to each other.
To make family dinners successful in your home, there should be one golden rule: no electronics at the dinner table. You don’t have to be a gourmet cook, but schedule it and let your children know it is a priority. Below are five benefits you can expect to see in your family when you are sharing family dinner together.
1. Family dinners keep us connected to each other. Sharing a family meal is a time to relax, talk about the day’s events, and reconnect with your family. When families say grace or thank you before dinner, it reminds each family member to be grateful.
2. Family dinners and stories shared builds resilience. When parents get involved and share some of their experiences and failures from the past, it reminds their children that they weren’t perfect. Sometimes kids feel so much pressure at school to perform at an incredibly high level, and it’s nice to know there is room to make mistakes.
3. Family dinners hold each family member accountable. Scheduled family dinners help each family member make boundaries so they can attend. Telling your friends or your boss you must leave for a family matter signals what you value most. It helps you seek out healthy relationships that respect family and what you value most. Kids who grow up feeling accountable to their family seek less assurance from others and are less manipulated by peers.
4. Family dinners mentor what healthy relationships look like. Family dinners offer an opportunity for parents to remind children how to eat together in community – by being respectful, helping with dishes, saying please and thank you, and sharing. These are important life skills and many of them are taught at the family dinner table.
5. Family dinners build self-esteem and lower the risk of depression. Family dinners promote conversation and listening to each other. When children and partners feel heard and validated for their feelings, they increase self-awareness and self-esteem and decrease loneliness and depression.
Family dinners are a wonderful way for families to pass down traditions, values, and morals. If your family life is feeling disconnected, scheduling regular family dinners can help you connect and begin working together like a team. One of the most important qualities of a healthy family is the ability to be loved for who you are.