Whatever happened to the family? A sit-down gathering with adults and children eating home cooking prepared by a stay-at-home mom. It’s gone and not likely to return.
Why? The reasons are obvious: Two-income families, single working parents, and many other tempting activities for both children and adults draw family members their separate ways. According to the Harvard Family Meal Project, 70% of meals today are consumed outside the home; 20% in the car.
The family meal has historically served two very important functions. It has provided better nutrition and it offers a major time when parents and children can relate to one another. So sit down and eat together when that is possible. But if not, here are a few other ideas.
First, a thought on nutrition. People today eat on the run. Quick small tasty snacks have replaced the traditional family mealtime. The answer: Have only healthy snacks available in the home: Trail mix, nuts, raisins, grapes, apple slices, etc.
Begin with foods your children already like, not with what you think they should eat. Don’t criticize what they like. You are only likely to firm up their opposition.
Set a good example. Your own eating habits may need changing. Let a concern for your children lead the way to improving everyone’s healthier snacking.
And second, some thoughts on family relationships. Focus on the many other ways you like to be with your children. Attend their ball games and track meets. Be a coach. Attend school events. Do you have a favorite TV program you might enjoy watching together?
Play computer games with them. Let them teach you how. Text them. If you find mealtime difficult, find other ways to relate to your children.
Good nutrition and strong relationships are the two most vital tasks of parenthood. Accept the pressures of modern life, and don’t let your job or hobbies interfere with your being a parent.