Eating together is very basic in Nature. Animals graze and hunt together in extended herds/packs. Young ones fool around, completely safe in the midst of the herd. They learn of grazing places and pick up hunting skills. Among human families, mealtime is when everyone can converse (sometimes it’s in parallel and the din is horrific!) and exchange notes about the day. It does not take much time, and it can be great fun.
In the modern family, parents make the effort to take kids on trips, play MMORPG games games like dragon games, do science projects with the kids or even go on treks together, but, many forget to eat together at home. Members of the family grab a bite to eat as and when they are hungry. Little kids sit down for a meal, at a time good for them. Parents might not be around to have a meal with them. As families get into this habit, it only gets harder to get everyone to the table at mealtimes. Not to forget that parents are overworked and kids are overscheduled these days.
Emphasis on Family
Since 2003, there has been a steady increase in the number of families which eat together at least three times a week. Perhaps parents are getting more aware of the benefits of eating together. The old adage – a family which eats together stays together – is perhaps understood better now. When everyone sits down to a meal as family, the children understand that they are a unit. It’s a time when kids have complete access to parents. News is exchanged. Updates happen. Food is core to existence, and sharing that emphasizes bonding, empathy, nourishment and enjoyment. During family mealtimes, kids are encouraged to eat a well balanced meal. They can watch and interact with their parents without outside distractions. Many habits formed at mealtimes, last kids a lifetime. If families eat well balanced meals, kids automatically do the same as they grow up.
When a family is together, it’s a good time to introduce new food or new rules or new ideas. If a new food is offered at the table, kids learn to like it. Great place to bring up new ideas and discuss them. Mealtimes also build a certain discipline in people. Irrespective of the mood individual family members are in, they have to get to the table and eat in peace. Peace can be brokered by other family members, if there is residual anger among some. Kids also learn basic etiquette and good manners.
What is avoided
When a healthy tasty meal is provided at home and everyone enjoys it, the reason to order no longer exists. This way control over the food being cooked exists and there is control on the portions eaten. There is also less opportunity for a growing kids to go out and hang around with other kids during mealtimes. This reduces their chance of getting into bad habits.
Family meals help build memories as cherished moments are the foundation on which strong families are built.