The Experts

Rediscovering the lost art of the family dinner

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How many times a week do you sit down to eat as a family?

I am sure some level of guilt will accompany the answer. We all know it is good to have meals together but many of us rarely do so – especially without the ‘white noise’ of the TV, radio, CD player or a combination of all of them.

As a child growing up, I remember having breakfast and dinner together always – it was what we regarded as normal. There are six kids in my family so it was an event, and Mum insisted we have the table properly set for each meal – and I mean ‘set’ as in placemats, silver, linen serviettes, the works. Oh, and we had to be dressed properly – no PJs, no sports outfits or, God forbid, wet hair!

I know it all sounds a bit extreme but I loved the sense of belonging it gave us, the sense of pride in our appearance and surroundings, and we talked about a lot of things and laughed and told jokes (well, that was my role as baby sister). Money and relationships rarely got a mention – in those days, money was a taboo topic, but I wish we had covered those topics daily, it could have helped big time!

Writing this has made me look at my own family and the fact I don’t have dinner with my kids enough without the TV, or me working and having dinner later. Not only can we teach our children things about life but we can hear how they feel, hopefully sort out any problems they may have, help them deal with first romances and how to look after their money. Maybe I should send my kids to the Switzer family for dinner regularly to learn money tips?

Better still, get them to help you cook, giving them more skills. It can be fun for everyone, and – please – teach them the art of cleaning up.

Family is the most important thing in the world. So, are you going to have a family dinner this weekend? If you’re stuck for recipes, scroll through some of my older posts.

Remember it’s not about what you eat (well, please be as healthy as possible) but the fact that you eat it together.

Published: Friday, October 15, 2010

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