Do you still sit around a table when you eat dinner with people close to you? It’s something that we still see on TV shows (including ones that aren’t necessarily designated family programming), but may not necessarily reflect all reality. Some real families may make special efforts to sit around a table for dinner, even when watching TV while eating has been a growing pastime for at least several decades. Regardless, those that don’t think about the importance of such things may want to consider communing more often while eating based on what studies are telling us. It turns out that families may be benefiting psychologically from eating at a table together during any time of the day.
How Many Times in a Week Should You Sit Together for Meals?
Cornell University conducted studies in recent years to find the familial benefits in sitting together for meals. They found that the children in the family had less depressive feelings after sitting together for meals at least three days out of the week. While you might think it’s because everyone has a chance to air grievances and concerns while eating, many of those mealtimes may mostly be rushed and chaotic. The Cornell studies never managed to get into the specifics of what might be discussed at a table, though they clearly show that children do better on conquering common teen issues when having meals this way.
Part of that might be in the form of showing empathy toward what the children might be going through. It seems to be the only time when parents can take the time to show concern over what their children are going through. Even TV shows depicting the act of sitting around a dinner table shows this more empathetic and connected form of communication than at any other hour.
With empathy always being something that gets neglected in the world, do you make time for your family to sit around a table for breakfast, lunch, or dinner? Some families have to adjust their schedules because the above studies show parents are an important part of the equation in making eating at the table worthwhile. In particular cases, this may mean breakfast is the only time you manage eating at a table. And it may be the best time considering the above studies are showing the quality of the time at the table is much more important than how many times it’s done.
Is Breakfast the Best Time, or Can You Still Communicate During Dinner?
It doesn’t take any study to show most people that sitting at the table for dinner gradually devolved into sitting on the couch or eating on trays while watching TV. Even my own family became a part of this trend a long time ago after starting out sitting at the table. Despite this and the distraction of news, game shows, or other early evening shows being on while eating, there was still a sense of communication during commercials or other breaks. In fact, when you eat while watching the news, it can lead to plenty of conversation and even connect to any issues that someone in the family has after dinner is over. Nobody said those conversations can’t continue as family members finish eating and take the dishes into the kitchen.
Then again, breakfast may have to become the new time of table conversation in a time when parents have to work longer and sometimes into the evening. As rushed as it may be, it’s a good way to discuss problems before starting the day so solutions can be applied in the immediate term rather than being forgotten during the night.
In that regard, dig into your oatmeal while dispensing advice to the people who matter in your family. Just don’t give advice with your mouth full.