Two Teens And Their Mama: The Family Dinner Project

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Family Dinner Project


When I was growing up, my family ate dinner together almost every night.   Mom was a pretty basic cook, but every once in a while my dad would whip up something special.  No matter what was on the menu, it was always served with salad, bread and butter.

I've tried to continue the dinner tradition with my boys.  Once they got into sports and other activities it became hard to get everyone to the table at the same time, but we're usually successful at least three times a week. And on weekends we have friends and family over for big meals a few times a month.

Sadly, sitting down for a meal with your kids has become an activity of generations past.  It can be hard with both parents working and kids busy with evening commitments. 

The Family Dinner Project.org is trying to change that trend.  According to their website:


"Over the past 15 years, research has shown what parents have known for a long time:  sharing a fun family meal is good for the spirit, brain and health of all family members.  Recent studies link regular family meals with the kinds of behaviors that parents want for their children: higher grade point averages, resilience and self-esteem.  Additionally, family meals are linked to lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, eating disorders and depression.  We also believe in the power of family dinners to nourish ethical thinking."


The Family Dinner Project.org site is filled with tons of resources, including recipes, tips for making time to get everyone together, and ways to involve your kids in preparing meals.  

But my favorite part is the Conversation Starters. There are hundreds of suggestions for family dinner discussions, broken down by themes and also age groups.  I love this, because it's sometimes hard to start a meaningful conversation with your kids, especially tweens and teens.  And it defeats the purpose of the family dinner if everyone is watching tv or looking at their phones and not talking to each other.



Having dinner together five nights a week would be ideal, but that's not realistic for many families.  Parents should remember that less is okay, and it doesn't always have to be dinner either.  Lunch and breakfast counts as long as everyone is sitting down and engaging with each other.

Sharing family meals with my boys has been one of my favorite parts of parenting.  I really hope the pendulum shifts and we start seeing a return to this important tradition.

I may not be the best cook, but my husband has taught the boys well, and I plan to be eating at their houses for years to come!

31 comments:

  1. Oh, I need to do a better job of this! We hardly ever sit at our dining room table together. Alise is usually at the bar and Wayne and I are in the living room holding our plates. I'm so ashamed! But hey! At least Alise can see us from the kitchen!

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    1. Sometimes these days we're at the kitchen table and the boys are at the bar, but I agree with you - at least we can see each other!

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  2. This post speaks to my heart...it's such an important part of our day!

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    1. I've seen pictures of your lovely dinners. Hopefully we can join you one of these days!

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  3. Lana, this is really a good idea, not one I have been able to implement in a very long time as I usually don't get home until 6:30-7:00 but I do try to have dinner with Valentina over the weekends... it really is an important thing to do with your family xox

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    1. It's so hard when you work full time and get home late. I think having meals together on the weekends is just as important!

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  4. I am a firm believer that dinner needs to be set as family time. In the 5 years we have become a family it has helped us bond, my children learned to speak to us in English, and with games built their vocabulary - at the end of the day I feel it is a must to reconnect with not only the family but your one and only true support system. :)

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    1. You're right, it's such a great way to reconnect after a long day!

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  5. I love this idea. My family always had dinner together on Sundays, but it was harder other days of the week. My sisters and I always had dinner together though. It's so important.

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    1. I love Sunday dinners with family. Such a great tradition!

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  6. We did this growing up, and I can't wait to carry on the tradition with my little girl too :)

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    1. Yay! I loved listening to my boys tell me about their day.

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  7. My hubby works late a lot during the week, but we try and eat together as much as we can. I feel like it's so important and I hope to make it a priority as our kids get older.

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    1. It's definitely hard when the hubs is working late!

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  8. I love the idea of the Family Dinner Project. We away shared our meals together four nights a week. Now the kids are all grown and gone except for our 19 year old who is NEVER home at night. Now it's pretty much just me and the Hubs eating dinner together…and that's okay, too.

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    1. It will be just the two of us in a few years - I'll have a hard time keeping my husband from eating in front of the tv every night.

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  9. What a great post Lana - such an important concept to share, and I love the family photos!
    My kids learned early-on to be flexible about meal times,and we are notoriously late eaters, because its been our habit over the years to wait for everyone to be home before we have dinner.

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    1. Thanks Susan. It's hard to wait so late to eat, but that time is so important.

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  10. What an awesome post, Lana! When my kids were at home it was very important that we ate dinner together every night and I'm happy to say we accomplished this most of the time. Now I cook dinner every night but since there are no longer kids in the house hubby often sits in front of the TV watching whatever sporting event is on TV. Mom and I still sit at the table every night and talk through our dinner.

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    1. I think it's so wonderful that you eat with your mom every night. I'll bet she loves that time as much as you do!

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  11. Family dinners are fun and lovely, but yeah its hardly done in this busy world where everyone is always doing something. Love the photo -Awesome!!
    Great post, Lana.

    missymayification.blogspot.co.uk

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  12. Holiday dinners are so important too as that is a great time to sit at the table and everyone chat. No Phones!

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  13. I'm amazed we don't have more family dinners here. As a kid it was the one constant - nearly through adulthood but of course busy high school activities did change it.
    We all had an assigned seat and we shared the chores and we sat and eat.
    Oh to do that again1

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    1. Isn't it funny how we all seem to pick a seat and sit there every time? My brother still gets mad if anyone sits in his seat - and he's 46 years old!

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  14. You are so wise. I have always read how important family dinners at the dinner table are. I think there is even a study that indicates that children who eat dinner at the table are less likely to become alcoholics. When my babies were growing up, we almost always at the table, and often with the TV turned off. On the occasion that we ate in front of the TV in the den, I first made my daughters promise not to become alcoholics. It worked. :)

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    1. Leslie you crack me up. I'm so glad your daughters aren't alcoholics :)!

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  15. I wish we ate dinner together more. With sports and my husband's meetings at night, it has gotten really difficult. But I would say we do manage it at least a few times a week. When the kids were little though, it was every day. We could definitely improve though!

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    1. It's definitely hard, and we don't do it as much as I'd like. But any dinner together is better than none!

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