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Lynda Loveland: To eat or not to eat ... together

Posted October 13, 2010

Lynda Loveland

It’s been pounded into my brain since I was pregnant, looking at parenting magazines. Come heck or high water, everyone sat down together at dinner. So that’s what we do at my house, like it or not. And a lot of times, there’s not a whole lotta like, even from me.

It’s slowly getting better, but it was rough for a while. My three kids are all less than two years apart, so for a while there, it always seemed like there was someone in a high chair. Someone was always throwing a fit because they didn’t like the food or they wanted more milk or they spilled the milk. I was up, I was down, both mentally and physically

Rarely did I, or do I, stay seated for a whole meal. But I do it, family meals, because we’re supposed to.

Recently I read an article by family psychologist John Rosemond that kinda opened my eyes. He says when kids are young, feed them first and get all the crankiness, messiness and general unfun-ness out of the way first.

THEN, the rest of the family should sit down and have a nice, relaxing dinner. Because if you think about it, all the focus is on the child who won’t eat or throws their food. My three-year-old is still in the “un-fun at dinner” category. In my house, relaxing and dinner do not share a sentence. My husband and I have started doing this un-family dinner, when we can, on Friday nights. The kids get an easy, kid-friendly dinner and run off to play. Then we get steak or whatever the heck we want!

I must say, I’ve been enjoying actually tasting my food and sipping my wine. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m totally for family dinners when the kids have some age on them. But are they really going to be mentally scarred at two if we don’t all sit down together? A peaceful dinner goes a long way…

Lynda is the mom of three and co-host of Mix 101.5 WRAL-FM's Bill & Lynda in the Morning. Find her here on Thursdays.


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  • tkuhl3 Oct 16, 2010

    I'm a preschool teacher and a mom of 3 grown children. We've always eaten a family dinner at the table whenever possible. We even had Sunday dinner around the dining room table whenever possible. We would play "best part, worst part", where everyone got a turn to talk about their best and worst part of the day/week/vacation, etc. It was a great way for everybody to join in the conversation, and it was always interesting. Many conversation grew out of that game. Now any time we all get together, including family from out of town, and we're eating dinner, someone will say "best part, worst part"! Confirmation that those times were important to the kids, no matter how much they might have groaned about it at the time. There were plenty of times that those family dinners were the only time all of us were together for the day. I think family dinner sends a strong message of the importance of the family bond.

  • heatherstao Oct 16, 2010

    Our son is seven months old and my husband and I are making it a priority that when we eat dinner, he sits at the table with us and he may be excused when we're done. I feed him his actual dinner before we sit down to eat, because he's not quite on table food yet, but I do give him rice puffs or rusks and his sippy cup with water during dinner. I really want dinner to be an enjoyable time for our family and to be able to take him to restaurants when he's older and not have to worry about him running all over the place. I think if we continue to do this (and of course there will be breakdowns here and there) he should learn that this is the way it is around a dinner table.

  • ncst8mpa Oct 15, 2010

    This reminds me of Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, who was the "in" Baby Doc when my kids were little. His books reminds us small children know what they need - and don't need - far better than their parents do. Until they get a little older and can adequately express themselves and understand us, it is often in the interest of the entire family to go with their flow whenever possible. It won't be long before schedules, rules and regimentation will take over their lives, just as they have ours.

  • jas1022 Oct 15, 2010

    This article made about as much sense as the reasons the Tarholes have come up with as to why they haven't fired ol' Butchie yet.

  • UPTOP Oct 14, 2010

    I was raised having dinner as a family and to this day I practice the same. It's the one time we come together and hear what everyone's day was like or catch up on the latest !!

  • pcook1979 Oct 14, 2010

    As far as the sit down and eat together thing goes, I don't do it for the simple fact that my kids eat BETTER when I let them it at the bar or on their trays. If I try to sit them down they just pick at their food and want to get down. I can sit in the living room with them and eat or stand at the bar while they sit and eat. I just find it easier at night with baths, homework, and so on and so forth

  • Boostershot Oct 14, 2010

    Being an empty nester and the mother of two who were very active in school, sports, etc. We lived by the rule that we ate at the table if at all possible TV cut off, etc. BUT, if we happened to share a meal on the bleachers, that was fine also. As long as we were together. I miss those times the most I think.

  • mdsmks Oct 14, 2010

    My children are now 17, 18 & 20 with the oldest two in college. I think we ate together as a family & actually enjoyed it more when they were very young than when they got the to the preteen & teenage years. With part time jobs, after school activities, homework, etc., it just got really hard to have all five of us together at the table for dinner. Now that my two oldest are away in college & my youngest works an after school part time job, I don't hardly know what to do with myself at dinner time. It is usually whatever I can find in the 'fridge to quickly heat up for my husband and me. I say eat together and enjoy those children while they are young, because they grow up way too fast!

  • margaretted Oct 14, 2010

    This sounds great in theory. My daughter is 3 and first of all I wouldn't want her upstairs playing on her own while her father and I ate downstairs. She is expected to sit with us, eat what we eat, and is not allowed to get down until everyone is finished. By making sure to include her in the conversation, this works for us. Secondly, her father and I both work and were it not for this family dinner time one of us would spend virtually no time with her before she headed off to bed at 7:45.

  • Tellyourfriends Oct 14, 2010

    Growing up we always ate together as a family. My dad always made sure of it. I am an only child so it wasn't too hard. I only have two boys (14 & 11) and I can't get it right. You would think I would have got it right a long time ago when my oldest was in second grade and he brought home a picture of our family dinner.......... we were all eating at tv trays watching tv!!! Can you imagine what that teacher thought??? :o)