posted by Talk About Giving blog team
March 17, 2011 @ 7:15 pm
Making family dinner should be our priority for raising healthy children and adolescents. We know this. After all, researchers have been studying the impact of family dinner on child/adolescent development since the 80s. We get it.
However, despite the articles we’ve all read championing family dinner as a roadmap to building strong families and successful children — we’re still not doing it. Amid balancing every family member’s schedule, having a family dinner at home doesn’t always make the to-do list. We are missing one of our greatest chances to connect.
Having dinner together is about more than ensuring nutritional meals (although reports confirm that eating together means families eat better) or keeping up with everyone’s day. Family dinner grounds your family’s identity and creates a space to share your values. In a TIME Magazine feature, Nancy Gibbs points out that the family dinner table is “…where a family builds its identity and culture. Legends are passed down, jokes rendered, eventually the wider world examined through the lens of a family’s values.”
Research has established that the key influence in shaping a child’s future philanthropy is parental modeling. Of course, it’s essential to involve your kids in the charitable work you do — but remember, they need to hear about your values as well. They need the opportunity to discuss those values and explore them. Perhaps you are responsible for selecting the charity your company will support every year — talk to your kids about the decision process. Is there a prominent social issue in your community? Ask your teenagers about their opinion. Have you decided to make a large purchase (or not)? Share your reasoning with your family.
Overall, families who regularly eat together produce healthier and happier children — but those dinner conversations accomplish more than just good grades and good nutrition. When you make time to talk around the table, you strengthen family bonds and instill family values. Whether you have pot roast with a side of philanthropy or Chinese take-out with a sprinkle of community, put family dinner on your calendar. It could be the most important you thing do all week.