Family Meals: Small inititative, Big Benefits

At the breakfast table, my father launches into trivia concerning Indian Classical Music, American politics, and World News. My sister and I fumble for answers, my mother holds herself back from revealing them, my grandma reminiscences of life 30 years ago, and my 11-year-old dog searches for scraps of food under the table. Missing breakfast or dinner is a cardinal sin. Even on weekends, my sister and I are hauled out of bed to the breakfast table at 8:00 a.m.

Eating family meals is more than just a tradition. It’s something that I had assumed commonplace for most families . But upon closer inspection and many sleepovers with friends, I realized that not all families place as much of an emphasis on family meals as my parents did.

I was obliviously lucky.

A recent article in the Washing Post strongly advocates the need for family meals, for a variety of reasons:

  1. Building vocabulary: Through conversation and dialogue with adults, children are exposed to unfamiliar words and concepts. Many an SAT words was learned at the dinner table in my house
  2. Physical health: A sit down dinner with parents means more fruits and vegetables.
  3. Mental health: Studies have demonstrated strong association betwen family dinners and a reduction in depression, suicidal thoughts, and high-risk behaviors.

My favorite memories have been made on the dining table, whether they involved distressing about impending exams, solving crosswords, or discussing the decline in pop music with my father. It has always provided warmth, support, bonding, and intellectual stimulation for me.

For most families, eating all three meals together is unrealistic, given work and school commitments. But creating a schedule that incorporates one meal together- to sit down, de-stress, and engage with one another – is not an impossible feat, and certainly worth it.