Value of dinner and conversation


Does your family eat together?

When mine does, it’s the highlight of my day. And, as it turns out, it might be a highlight to making their lives better.

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released data from its Survey of Income and Program Participation. It found that more than four out of five children ate dinner with a parent at least five days a week from 1998 to 2021. It went up to 85% in 2020.

Experts have found a correlation between eating dinner together and lots of positives for children. It’s been found to help children maintain a healthy weight, improve their performance at school and engage in fewer risky behaviors, such as alcohol and tobacco consumption.

Dining together seems like such a simple thing to do, but it makes such an impact.

I don’t know that I’d be able to talk to my children about the difficult topics in life if we hadn’t already laid the groundwork by making small talk at the dinner table each day. We have a no-device rule at our table, meaning phones are off-limits until you’re done. It beats chomping down on food while people are playing videos anyway.

Even with all their busy schedules, we’re generally able to eat together any day there isn’t a nighttime sporting event, which will become even more common now that my freshman’s volleyball season and my sophomore’s golf season are complete.

It’s so refreshing to hear their take on the news of the day from their perspective. It’s a reminder to me that a rumor spreads faster than the truth, as what they’ve heard happened sometimes doesn’t match the facts at all.

It’s also interesting to hear what’s news in their worlds. Sometimes we just learn about the assorted people and personalities in their schools. Sometimes we hear about the teaching styles of various people. And sometimes we just get to hear about funny things that happened — many of which didn’t seem that funny on a second telling “because you just had to be there.”

I always just thought it was the right thing to know the people in my children’s lives. That seemed to be a good enough reason. Now it’s interesting to learn that we’re actually setting up our children to have a more healthy, more successful life.

Take that, breakfast. Maybe dinner is the most important meal of the day.

David Trinko is editor of The Lima News, a division of AIM Media Midwest. Reach him at 567-242-0467, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.

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