Dinner Conversation

Bring back the family dinner.

I love this idea of making family dinners a priority. I really appreciate what the author of this new book has to say regarding food, the importance of dinners, and how our families can grow when making it a priority.

{Excerpt from Laurie David in www.grist.org article. About her new book:
The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect With Your Kids, One Meal at a Time }

Q. A lot of people are paying more attention to where their food comes from, but has the social aspect of how we eat our food been missed?

A. As the family dinner has declined over the past 30 years, all these disturbing health problems have increased -- obesity and diabetes. We're feeling the social ramifications of not doing this ritual the way our parents and grandparents did.

The other piece of this that's creating challenges for parents is the computer and the cell phone and the text messaging. Everything about our current lifestyle is pushing away connectedness. That's why it's so important to put your foot down and recapture this ritual. It's the key way that people are civilized. It's how you learn manners. It's how you get to taste new foods and develop a palate. It's how you learn to listen and have a conversation. It improves your vocabulary. It's where you develop your debating skills. Hopefully at the table you're discussing world affairs and learning to have a social conscience.

Q. You talked to a lot of interesting people about their own family dinners. Did you take any ideas from those back to your own house?

Book cover.A. Yes. I was very inspired by the interview with Bobby Kennedy -- in his family growing up, you not only had to participate, you had to do a book review, or you had to write a biography [of a prominent figure], or you had to memorize a poem.

I love this old-fashioned idea of poetry at the dinner table. Kids used to learn poetry in school in first or second grade, and you came to the table and you recited it. Everybody applauded, and the self-esteem that the kids got from it was incredible. I didn't teach my kids poetry, but my boyfriend has a 7-year-old and we're teaching her poetry.

Q. I still find that it's really worthwhile to make the effort to sit down and have dinner together, put aside our laptops and The New York Times. You're inspiring me to make that a ritual.

I also appreciated your admission that it's not always easy to have a good conversation at the dinner table.

A. You have to create it. I can't tell you how many people I interviewed who said, "We had regular family dinner, but nobody talked." For some people, the conversation is as challenging as preparing the food. This book is going to help those people.

I come from the philosophy that if you're at the table, you have a responsibility to participate. I think we have to teach our kids that, too. You don't get to just come and eat and then leave. You have to be excited about what you're eating. You have to tell the person who prepared the food how good it is. You have to contribute in some way.


What great memories or traditions related to dinner do you have and cherish?

Do you struggle with making dinner a family event?

What do your conversations include at the dinner table?

How is family dinner special for you?

1 comment:

  1. What great memories or traditions related to dinner do you have and cherish?
    My grandmother always made me dinner every night while my parents were working.

    Do you struggle with making dinner a family event?
    Only because it's not often as important to other family members as it is to me.

    What do your conversations include at the dinner table?
    We share what we were thankful for today.

    How is family dinner special for you?
    I enjoy taking time to just exist with my family without interruption from TV, phones, or computers.