Why have families gotten away from eating dinner together these days? The reasons are plentiful: lots of after school activities, both parents working longer hours and having longer commutes, kids would rather eat in front of the computer/game console/TV, no one having the time to actually prepare the meal and the list could go on and on.
When I was a kid, we ate together at least 5 or 6 nights a week and those dinners normally took place at home. Most families I knew did the same thing. If we went out to eat, we would still go out together. Many times these days, I will see families eating at a restaurant and each member of the family is on a different "device" whether it be a handheld gaming system or cell phone, checking the internet or texting. It seems sad that as a culture we have gotten away from the family meal and just the face to face time that it brings.
A lot of research has been done on this very topic and the results are fairly unanimous: eating together as a family, particularly in the home environment on a regular basis, brings many benefits- in the realm of healthier eating choices, better parent/child relationships, and emotional well-being.
Here are a few articles that examine this topic:
So, what can be done to help make family dinners happen more often? With the fast-paced lives most people maintain these days, it can be quite difficult. Prioritizing activities, limiting gaming/screen time and planning meals ahead with easy yet nutritious recipes can go a long way to achieving this goal.