As we celebrate the week of Thanksgiving, I have paused to think about what I am really thankful for.  My 19 year old daughter came home from college yesterday and we were all able to sit down to our regular family dinner.  It was just like she had never left….we talked about school, what was going on in our lives, and whatever else came up.  It wasn’t a fancy meal at all, just a typical, quickly prepared meal (with all real food, of course) that we shared together.  Even after we finished eating, we all lingered a little longer at the table just chatting.  It was a very special time that we’ve shared thousands of times.

We have always had family dinners like this since the girls were very little.  It has always been an enjoyable time to connect with each other.  Even with my oldest daughter away at college, we still continue to eat together without the influence of the TV, phones, or any other distractions.  Even our dog sits next to the table with us (he’s silently begging for food…but still, he’s part of our family time).  The only exception we’ve made to the no electronics rule was the few occasions when my college daughter joined us for dinner via Skype.  That was fun to see her smiling face in her regular spot at the dinner table :).

Even though eating together as a family happens for us at least 5 times a week, I never really realized the benefits of what we were doing for our family.  This past weekend, I read “The Hour that Matters Most” by Les & Leslie Parrott.  They gave some startling statistics about the effect that family meal time has on children and how it influences how they communicate with others and feel about themselves.  It seems that many children actually enjoy spending time with their parents and having that stability.  Interesting!  Children and teens that had regular family dinners were less likely to drink alcohol, smoke, or try drugs.  Who knew?!?

If you don’t already share dinner time with your family, I encourage you to make it a priority at least a couple of times a week.  I realize we’re all busy and have hectic schedules, but this is really important.

If you’d like some suggestions about how to make this happen for your family or learn more about the benefits of eating together, please check out this book.

Do you have regular family dinners?  Why is it important or not important to you?

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