By Diana Hembree, San Francisco Bay View, June 17, 2019.
Having trouble getting the family together for dinner? You’re not alone.
Research shows that family dinners have declined by 30 percent over the past 20 years. Kids who have experienced childhood trauma are already at higher risk of obesity and unhealthy eating, so this decline is especially troubling.
“Dinner is a time to relax, recharge, laugh, tell stories and catch up on the day’s ups and downs, while developing a sense of who you are as a family,” Anne Fishel, PhD, a family therapist and professor at Harvard Medical School, has explained. “I don’t think people realize how big a punch that hour around the table packs.”
Fishel is a founding member of The Family Dinner Project, a Boston-based nonprofit that offers free online resources to help families revive the magic of the family meal. It’s there to support you whether you’d rather have family dinners, barbeques, breakfasts or just a weekly potluck.
“The benefits don’t come from a well-cooked lasagna; they come from creating a warm atmosphere at the table,” said Fishel. “Even one dinner a week can be hugely positive if the atmosphere is warm and engaging.”
And everyone doesn’t have to be there to make it work. “You could have one parent at the table, or perhaps an aunt or Grandpa,” she added. “You might take a snack break in the evening where parents and kids could come together and talk over hot chocolate. It should just be something that’s predictable and enjoyable.”