The Family Meal is Real

Parents’ passion for breaking bread together

We asked scores of moms for their thoughts on the family dinner as a standard American ritual — and were floored by their passion for this important time of sharing and caring, as hard as it is to achieve sometimes.

Here’s what LifeZette heard from parents around the country:

It’s a nice way to have the whole family together, and kids need to hear the “old” stories and connect with them, too. We have dinner together at least one or two times a week. Having a college-age kid has thrown a wrench in that, but we always have Sunday afternoon dinners with grandparents. We learn something new every week. — Jana, Lexington, Kentucky

Related: The Family Meal is Real

We grew up eating together every night. We gave thanks before eating. No TV, no phone calls. We kids helped prepare, set the table, and clean up after the family meal. It taught us to make useful contributions at home. We all ate the same food — “picky eater” was not an identity option. We learned good manners such as please, thank you and may I be excused? We also learned to participate in adult conversation, to explain our thinking, disagree without rancor, share the joy of a discovery or talk about a tough moment. Even now, I sit at the table and give thanks. Our meals are what we’re made of, biologically and socially. Family is about sharing more than DNA. — Lynne, Clements, Maryland

It’s fun. It’s about the only time our 15-year-old will talk about girls. — Karen, Owensboro, Kentucky

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We aim for a family dinner most nights at 7 p.m., or as soon as my husband walks in the door. We each share a “rose & thorn” from the day. — Cathy, Alexandria, Virginia

It’s taco Tuesday at our house! We do family dinners as much as we can. I have an infant as well as a 9-year-old, so it’s hard sometimes, but we try to carve out time to talk about our days, share things that made us happy and turn off the world around us. — Anne Marie, Alexandria, Virginia

It’s important to find some space for togetherness. We make time just for us, and no electronics. — Lilli, Alexandria, Virginia

We eat a (mostly) civilized sit-down dinner most nights. I work hard at serving delicious and healthy food, so we might as well make it complete with 15 minutes of togetherness. — Elizabeth, Alexandria, Virginia

Related: One Dad’s Junk Food Fight

Daily family moments are sacred, whether it’s the coveted time around a table or not. It’s the time spent connecting as a family that matters. — Wendi, Owensboro, Kentucky

Most nights we have breakfast in the mornings and dinner together, too. My husband does dinner while I organize homework and make a salad. It’s easier now that our oldest is driving; I drive fewer carpools at night and he makes it home for that hour. My husband and I work full time and the kids are in at least three activities each (soccer, robotics, debate, piano, gymnastics). We also have people over for dinner at least once a week. The kids clean up and we get to sit and have a glass of wine and talk. — Monica, Austin, Texas

We play hearts every night. Originally, it kept the little one from rushing off to do his more important stuff. Now we stay at the table after dinner ends, laughing, talking and just enjoying being together. — Christie, Alexandria, Virginia

Meeting around the family table has always been important. Now that the kids are grown with kids of their own, we meet as an extended family at least once a month. People connect around food and fellowship. We laugh at ourselves and each other. Recently, we’ve been taking just our daughters out for dinner from time to time. With just the four of us, it is a special time to reconnect. Those times set aside for dinner when they were young makes the time now even sweeter. — Carolyn, Alexandria, Virginia

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