IN OTHER WORDS | Why I Love Family Dinners

1. I don’t care anymore if they eat it. I just put it on the table.

Don’t get me wrong, I try to make food my family will enjoy. I just don’t stress anymore. I used to make something adult-ish that my husband would like, and when my kids were young, I made the mistake of dumbing it down for them. As it turns out, even if I hadn’t, we have picky eaters. One son has a weird texture thing. I mean, who doesn’t like mashed potatoes? The other is just, oh, who knows? He just likes what he likes and he won’t be cajoled. As long as there’s milk, protein, fruit, and veggies involved most of the time, I’m good. My boys are both healthy.

The bottom line, I have had food issues myself so I’m not in the “clean your plate” club, or even the “just one bite” club. It’s their choice. As a parent, my job is to make the food. I cook healthy well-balanced meals with at least one thing I know they’ll like. Their job is to eat it. If they chose not to, they won’t starve. There’s always the next meal. But, no bitching and moaning. This is dinner.

2. The focus is on fun.

We have a new tradition that everyone loves. Each person gets to ask a group question. It can be anything from “If you could be on a TV show, which character would you be?” (Olivia Pope) to “What’s your favorite Star Wars movie and why?” (The Empire Strikes Back, it’s the best) to “What would you be a liquid, solid or a gas” (queue farting jokes). It usually ends in my eldest proving that I am NOT smarter than a seventh grader, or my youngest cracking me up to where I sense it might be time for Depends.

3. It means a lot to my husband.

I recently understood, after years of miscommunication about family dinners, I could give a gift to my husband by making them more of a priority. We can’t do them every night, things come up. But, when we can, we do. In the past, it seemed he “expected” me to make dinner which irked independent me. I hate to cook and, at the risk of using one of Time magazine’s proposed banned words of 2015, I’m a feminist. He’s a feminist. Here a feminist, there a feminist, everywhere a feminist. But I am the SAHM, and work from home, so during the week, it makes sense for me to cook. He cooks a lot on weekends and every holiday. Yes, every holiday. Recently, he said “I’m conflicted. I don’t want to sound like a chauvinist; I just want to give our kids this gift of family. The food, who cooks it, I don’t care.” So, I cook, or we do take out, sandwiches, breakfast for dinner, it doesn’t matter.

Growing up, I didn’t have that strong family dinner connection either. Now he and I can heal each other and give this to our kids. Win, win.

4. I’m not rigid about it (or really anything for that matter).

Everyone has a crap day sometimes and just needs to lose their shit and be alone. The other night, my youngest was done. He argued with my husband, his brother, slammed his door and was self-soothing, reading on his bean bag chair. When I went to get him for dinner, he said “Mom, can I please just eat in here, alone?” So I set up a blanket and made him a carpet picnic. He came out later, and was fine.

5. The dinners, they are ours.

More than anything, family dinners belong to us. They are ours alone. For me, my husband, and my two boys, we are creating memories and tradition. We are modeling family that will bond and grow with us. The questions, the high fives, the odd pairings of cut up fruits and veggies (strawberries and red peppers for one, apples and sugar snap peas for the other), the occasional willingness to try new things, the laughter, the sometimes surprising confessions (“I like a girl” or “I’m being teased at school”). These things happen around our kitchen table, and as a family, we talk about them, fix them, laugh about them, heal them. Win, win.

Comments

  1. Author Tamie Dearen says:

    Thanks for popping by to comment on the dark chocolate cleanse post. I can really relate to your feelings about family dinners! 😀

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  2. I love family dinners! We’re all mostly home for dinner during the week, but we make Sunday dinners special. Hubs likes too cook that one since he doesn’t really have time to cook during the week. He makes something special, we all sit and talk about the weekend and the upcoming week. It’s a lot of fun!

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  3. I love this! We don’t have children, but we do this with our morning coffee. we discuss all and I still believe we need the ‘Coffee Time’ to get together. I do remember growing up an having family dinners and it was so very important, & I am so happy that it is not lost in communicating in our marriage. I love your post and I am sharing. Coming by from Austin Bloggers. Lots of Love, Lisa

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  4. I love this. We do a family sit down dinner too and it’s amazing how once we stopped doing the ‘short order cook’ method how this kids just started eating what they were served. I really tested them last month when I did the Real Simple ‘month of meals’ plan and for the first year ever, they passed!

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