Recently I had the pleasure of meeting the talented team behind The Family Dinner Project. It is a grassroots movement to encourage families to schedule regular family dinners together. Not always an easy thing to do in today's busy world. It allows family members to reconnect. Studies show that children whose families put an emphasis on family dinners, have higher grade point averages, better self esteem and are less likely to dabble in drugs and have a reduced risk of teen pregnancy.
I stayed home to raise my kids. Most nights I made dinner with an occasional take out pizza night. I understood the importance of sharing a meal. Since my divorce everything has changed. I work crazy hours. Sometimes I joke that my daughter and I are living like two college kids. We are constantly coming and going, rushing in for a change of clothes, a bite to eat, and if we have enough time, taking the wet towels, that have been growing mold in the washer, and putting them into the dryer. Not ideal.
On the evenings when we are both home, I make sure to plan a meal. My son who lives on college food, really has learned to appreciate the comforts of home and having his Mom cook for him. Divorce affects children too. Sharing a family meal helps give them a sense of security, a knowing that they will always have a home and loved ones to fall back on.
One night last week I was dirt tired. I had worked nine hours and my daughter had eaten before I got home. My head was pounding but she asked if I'd like to go through the local McDonald's drive thru for a Peppermint McFlurry. I agreed but only if she drove. Somewhere along the way we decided we'd take photos of the Christmas lights during our drive. We dubbed it our own little "drive by shooting." Not a successful photo shoot by any means and, yeah, I almost dropped my camera out the window.
Fast forward to the drive thru as we await our turn to order:
Daughter: "What do you want?"
Me: "Oh, I'll get a Peppermint McFlurry, but make it snack size."
Daughter orders. We edge up a bit, waiting in line to reach the next window. I'm thinking I need a McFlurry, like I need a hole in the head, but I wasn't about to pass up an opportunity to spend time with her.
Me: "You realize I'm one McFlurry away from being the fat kid at work that nobody talks too."
No response from daughter. She's used to my silly rantings.
As we are pulling out of the parking lot, Last Christmas, by Wham, comes on the radio. We crank the radio and sing along with George Michael, between spoonfuls of Peppermint ice cream and laughter. Not exactly what you would call a family dinner, but it had the same effect.
Do you try to schedule regular family dinners? How many nights a week would you say your family shares a meal on average?
Speaking of family dinners, did you enter my cookbook giveaway yet? You can enter to win a copy of At My French Table by Jane Webster. It's a mouth watering display of photography and delicious food. Good luck!