Dinner Together; And Why It’s Important To Our Family’s Health


“A family that eats together, stays together.”

The above quote is attributed to an unknown person, or persons, and is a take on the much more profound quote of, “the family that prays together, stays together.”  And while praying together as a family is certainly more important than eating together, I’m not sure that the slow death of the family meal isn’t having a long-term negative effect on families and more profoundly on its individual members.  Why? Well a number of studies have been done regarding the benefits of having at least one meal together as a family and its finding are that families that have an evening meal together,  tend to be healthier, their communication skills are improved,  and family traditions are established,  as well as a number of other positives.

While there are many reasons  one would want to have traditional family meals,  the most  obvious and glaring are the bonds that are formed while eating together round the table. In 2010 Robert D. Hales, in a talk entitled, “Our Duty to God: The Mission of Parents and Leaders to the Rising Generation,” spoke of the importance of the family meal when he reminisced about his own childhood. He said:

“Research shows that during the most important transitions of life…the greatest influence come…from the regular, warm, friendly, caring interaction with parents.

With that in mind, when we sit down at the dinner table, is our whole family there? I remember as a young man asking permission to play baseball through dinnertime. “Just put my meal in the oven,” I said to my mother. She responded, “Robert, I really want you to take a break, come home, be with the family for dinner, and then you can go out and play baseball until dark.” She taught all of us that where family meals are concerned, it’s not the food but the family interaction that nourishes the soul. My mother taught that the greatest love we give is within our homes.”

While food establishments like McDonald’s, Burger King and the like offer convenience,  they offer little else. And while convenience may be needed on occasion, the steady diet of the American family on it, has left this most basic unit of our society malnourished when it comes to bonding its members together.   Perhaps as parents, we need to reassess what we give up when we program our families such that mealtime is nothing more than grabbing a burger and fries at the local fast food restaurant.

Some of my fondest memories surround the evening meal we had together as a family.  Coming from a family of ten, I still treasure the feelings that come to my heart when I recall how privileged I felt to sit on my mothers right hand each and every night. For a small boy, knowing that I would always have a bit of special attention from her at meal time,  provided me security and everlasting feelings of love that linger even to this day. When my memory conjures up images of mealtime, it is filled with wonderful feelings of warmth and love towards her, my siblings, and my father. I don’t remember much of the meals, but I savor the memories of time spent with my family.

Times have changed, but changes are not always good, and we certainly have agency to modify, in our families, what societal norms we choose to embrace. However, for me, the sweet blessings that have come into my life from family meal time still linger to this day.  The taste of which, like manna from heaven,  I will never tire of!




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