Who would have thought that everything good in childhood could come from climbing into your high chair as a toddler or slumping into the chair of teenage angst to sit through dinner with your family? But study after study seems to duplicate the same results: the common sense reality is that the family dinner is profoundly important.
If you’re reading and you have a baby, you should know that Harvard discovered early language development was far superior in babies and toddlers who heard discussion daily at the dinner table. My grandmother would tell you that there is no better place to model and teach manners and respect for one another than at the dinner table. Teens aren’t off the hook either with their activities and packed schedules. Families that made time for dinner together raised teens who did better in school, in peer relationships and overall had better coping skills when life didn’t hand them all the best things the felt entitled to have.
Kelly Corrigan and Christine Carter, PhD do a nice job of summing up some of the true-to-life obstacles we face as parents, but they make a good argument for raising the hard question: Do I love my children enough to make the family dinner a priority? YES, I, Gayle Schrier Smith, MD do love my children that much. I sure don’t get it right every night, but I’m pretty sure my grandmother was spot ON about the importance of sharing dinner time as a family. And if a widow with eight children to raise can pull it off, who am I to complain about the juggling act.
Watch and tell us what you think. We love to hear your feedback.
Written and reviewed by Gayle Schrier Smith, MD
and her Partners in Pediatrics.