Mangia! Mangia! My grandmother would cry. Eat! Eat! And eat we did. All of us crowded around her big kitchen table.
Eating is a social endeavor – not something that should be done alone in front of the television.
Families – even busy ones – should eat dinner together. It’s a perfect time to wind down and share your day. It’s also an opportunity to teach your children proper table manners – a skill that will serve them well in their professional lives. (You wouldn’t believe how many business dinners I’ve been to where the person sitting next to me drank from my water glass, or didn’t know which fork to use!)
And while we’re at it, I’d also like to advocate for bringing your children to a nice restaurant once in a while – albeit not the one where I’m having dinner!
Growing up, my grandfather would take us on vacation each summer – and one of the best parts of vacation was eating out – something we never got to do at home. But before we even entered the restaurant my mother would turn around, stare down at my sister and me, and in a very stern voice outline exactly how we were to behave.
It worked! We ordered our Shirley Temples, selected an item from the Children’s menu, acted like little ladies, and invariably we would be praised by all the wait staff – which made us – and our mother beam with pride.
Numerous studies have been published which show that the more often teens eat dinner with their families; the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs.
So do your kids – and yourself – a favor. Tonight make a meatloaf, turn off the television, and have dinner together. I guarantee by the time dessert rolls around, you’ll all be having a good time.