Sunday, February 14, 2010

Around the Dinner Table: Family Activities

I am not sure what the big fuss is about eating around the dinner table. Many studies have come out correlating eating dinner with the family to positive outcomes in kids but they do not have much to say about why. We eat dinner around the dinner table anytime there is not a schedule conflict. Some nights may be dominated by tae kwon do practice or the dreaded double-header of tae kwon do and soccer back-to-back. Even in the case of tae kwon do, we still eat at the table, we just have to do it without Daddy. No study is determining why we eat around the table, we do it because I want a chance to enjoy my kids.

We do enjoy our dinners! Not just the food--and thankfully kids tend to like their mom's cooking because they do not know any better--but the things we do. We have a standing topic we discuss which has been talked about here and elsewhere. Once we each finish our "three good things", we have more fun!

My husband's sister sent us a fabulous family present for Christmas this year. She sent us something called "Table Topics Family Edition". It's a great-looking, acrylic cube filled with sturdy cards. Each card has an interesting question on it that everyone at the table can think about and answer. I love these cards for myself especially. Occasionally it will give me a chance to share a story from my own youth that I would not usually talk about.

The kids enjoy these cards so much. They take turns reading the questions and we go around the table and give everyone a chance to give their opinion. Sometimes we continue discussing the topic wondering why someone choose the answer they gave. Other times we move right into another card. They have read the cards with friends even. I actually need to put a stop to the questions so we can clean the table.

Sometimes the kids will surprise me with their opinions. You would think after being a mother three or four times over that I would realize that half of parenting is seeing how your kids develop on their own. I am glad we found this opportunity to get to know each other more than we usually would.


Rachel said...

"three or four times over"


I'm sorry, that just made me laugh out loud. I mean absolutely no disrespect, but I have to ask, tongue in cheek: Which is it, three or four?


Kim said...

Hard to tell! I usually say I'm a mom to three-and-a-half because I am never quite sure how to count the step-daughter. I'm definitely fulfilling some sort of parenting role, but it's far from being a complete one.

Good catch!

Rachel said...

Yes, that makes sense! I haven't seen any of the posts where you mentioned being a step-mother, and it didn't occur to me.

I suppose not wanting to step on the birth-mother's toes could account for that. But, personally, I'd say you are mom to four.

Lady Baker said...

Sounds cool. I just ordered the cube. We do family breakfast instead of dinner, but this still sounds like a fun tool.

Kim said...

I find it a lot of fun! I hope you guys enjoy it, too. I can imagine lots of giggles around the breakfast table.

christinemm said...

I never knew from your blog or Twitter either that you had a step-daughter, just after being at your house and seeing the photo of 3 girls and wondering, "Who is that?". LOL. Then later talking to you.

I am surprised you like the questions. Would have assumed you'd think they promoted silly chatter when you already are very close to your kids. So much for my assumption.

You have a very close family who sees each other a lot. Some families I know through Scouts and the neighborhood don't live like you. A number of families barely see each other. Kids are living independent lives and spending time in institutional care not parent-care. Like before-school care, then school, then after-school care, then sports and extra-curriculars in what is left over on nights and weekends.

In some cases both the mom and dad travel for business. In some cases one parents is not home for dinner Mon-Friday. Some families who have little ones believe in a 7pm bedtime but Dad gets home 5 days a week after that, and leaves before the child is awake in the morning. so the child doesn't see the father for 5 days of the week even when they are present in the home that week (not away on work related travel).

I think the dinner eating together thing is sometimes a replacement for general 'spending time together'.

When I was a child in the 1970s my parents barely played with me or connected EXCEPT at every meal. I saw my father for breakfast and dinner and mom was there for all 3 meals.

Today the shift is 'quality time' for parents and families including 'parents play with kids' promoted plus we are still being pushed to share all meals together.

Free Range Kids had a post this week about not wanting to play with kids...

Jess said...

I think it's wonderful that you make such an effort to eat with your family. There are so many studies that show the benefits of eating at the dinner table. I even just wrote a blog post about it.

I think you have to understand a little bit about the research process to know why the studies aren't able to reveal the "whys" of the benefits of eating at the dinner table. It's a very scientific process where they can only give you the statistical data (for one question at a time), not the answers. We can only make educated guesses as to "why." No matter what, it's nice to know that eating together produces such great things!