My parents kitchen table… the most memory infused hunk of wood I’ve ever known. It was a run-of-the-mill, six seater, rectangular object. But right there… family occurred. Between the five of us, we laughed at each others perfect imperfections, we cried over spilt milk, we shared stories, we waged war, mammy’s speciality ‘Irish curry’ was dished up, & repeatedly my little brother’s veg ended up under the cushion of his chair. Around that table I moved closer to womanhood, had priceless insights into who I am, & invented my future.
For many modern day families, dinner time does not resemble this. Parents share with me in clinic how they quiet down the stress of meal times by occupying their kids with animations on the iPad. In other families mum or dad’s career, or even the children’s after school activities get in the way of dinner time bonding. Many other families congregate around the television to catch up on their favourite shows while munching on dinner.
As an adoptive parent or foster parent you may be wondering if this ‘practice of old’ is worth integrating into your modern day family to promote family bonding. For a long while now sociology & family studies have been proclaiming that family dinners are a miracle cure for obesity, teen pregnancy, smoking, crime, drug abuse & depression. Research shows that adopted & fostered children are more prone to mental health issues & possibly behavioural issues, particularly if they’ve experienced abuse & neglect.
A recent study has discovered that these dinners are a correlate rather than a cause to the proclaimed benefits. Basically, those more likely to have family dinners also have stronger marriages, & healthier, more influential relationships with their kids. In families that have rocky relationships but where dinners are still a staple, there’s actually the potential to cause more harm than good.
What’s worth noting from the study is that in families with high quality relationships, the more times per week an effort is made to eat together, the greater the reduction in adolescent depression & delinquency. With 1 in 10 children aged between 5 & 16 having a mental health disorder in the UK, I’d say thats an effect worth striving for.
Correlate or not, nobody can deny that family meals are powerful, consistent opportunities to have you create stronger relationships. This unifying routine is a great way of fostering a sense of security & belonging to your children & teens, exploring family values, easing day-to-day conflicts, & building on trust & love. So how do we make this phenomenon from a past age work in our modern society?
Read ’5 tips for creating positive family meal times’ to find out.
What are you taking on to encourage bonding in your family? I’d love to hear from you so drop me a comment below.
Wishing you & your family health & happiness,