Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Family Dinner

When I became a parent 12 years ago last month, I set a goal to have dinner as a family every night for as long as we could make that possible.  For the most part, I have been successful.  Somewhere between 6:15 and 6:45, my daughters set the table, Dan turns off the TV, and we all sit down together to my favorite time of the day.

We have a couple of rules at our dinner table:

  1. No books. (I know... I know.....)  This rule is sometimes suspended on leftover night, because I just can't face leftovers unless I'm distracted.
  2. We use our good manners.
  3. No TV.
  4. You have to try everything, even if you think you won't like it.

My girls are great about three out of four of these rules.  Occasionally Abby makes fart jokes or shows her sister her chewed up food.  Sometimes Molly pokes Abby under the table and starts a fight.  But for the most part, we have a civilized dinner and we TALK!  I love hearing about what my girls learned that day - they know "nothing" is not an acceptable answer.  We share our favorite parts of the day and describe a problem we each had to solve.  I like to think that when we sit down to a family dinner, whether it's in our home or at a restaurant, Dan and I are reinforcing for our girls how much they mean to us and how much we value what they have to say.  I know I'm teaching them how to have conversations and how to dine in polite company that will serve them well in their futures.

This school year is the first time that we will not eat together TWO nights of the week.  Because of Molly's dance schedule, she must eat either before the rest of the family or after.  When this happens, I sit with her at the table, sometimes with my dessert, to talk to her so she doesn't have to eat alone.  I don't want her to feel left out of this important family time.  I'm sad that her busy schedule has interrupted our family dinners so soon... I was hoping to make it to high school, but I'm not in charge of the Y's dance schedule.

I keep telling myself that the other five nights of the week, I have my family around me, usually not complaining about dinner, sharing our trials and triumphs and just enjoying being a family.

I'm pretty lucky.


  1. A great goal! Congratulations for sticking with it. I am sure each member of the family has a store of treasured memories from the time spent together. Your daughters will have roots to keep them grounded during the teen years. You are lucky, for sure.

  2. I love the fact that you still sit down with her. My family doesn't get family dinners nearly that often.

  3. I've had the URL for this post on my to-do list of things (to respond to) since Tuesday. Every time I've seen it, I've been sitting on my phone rather than at my computer. Until now.

    I LOVE the priority your family places on dinner. Not just the rules, but on the conversation. It is rare to find families who prioritize family dinners these days so I admire the commitment you've made to it. (Five nights a week is great!) AND, good for you for sitting with Molly. What a special time that is for the two of you to share.