Family Dinner

Family Dinners: A Presidential Proclamation!

Good food, great conversations and loads of laughs—that’s what family dinners are made of.

If busy schedules are making it hard for your family to land at the same place at the same time, take a “time out” to consider all the benefits of gathering around the dinner table. Family dinners are about more than just sharing a meal.

Family Dinner

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The fourth Monday in September (this year it falls on September 24) has been declared Family Day. Launched in 2001, A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University was issued a Presidential Proclamation by then president, George W. Bush. Since then, this grassroots initiative has turned into a national celebration supported by PTAs, YMCAs, faith-based groups, substance abuse programs, government officials and corporate sponsors.

By participating, you’ll be joining the millions of families who have made a pledge to eat dinner together on that day.

Trying to get everyone together for a meal—especially every day—can be difficult. But the benefits of eating together make family mealtime a tradition worth pursuing. Simply eat with your children whenever possible, even if it isn’t every day. Research by CASA/Columbia reveals that the more often children eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs. And the conversations that go hand-in-hand with dinner will help you learn more about your children’s lives and better understand the challenges they face.

BE CREATIVE. You don’t have to be sitting in a dining room at home for mealtime to “count.” Family meals can be shared at a restaurant, in a park or near a playing field. What does count is that you make the most of every opportunity instead of worrying about following a strict timetable. Simply eat with your kids whenever possible.

MAKE IT FUN. Eating flavorful healthy food is one of life’s greatest pleasures, especially when shared with family and friends. Focus on the positive when you’re at the table and save the lectures and “should haves” for another time.

KEEP IT SIMPLE. Save your elaborate gourmet menus for adult company. With the family keep the menus simple and enjoyable and you’ll find yourselves eating together more often because everyone will want to repeat the great experience.

KIDS INVOLVED. Let kids suggest menus. Teach them to help in the preparation process. Allow them to customize their own pizzas with different toppings or assemble their own salads or tacos.

CONTROL THE ENVIRONMENT. Turn off the television and radio. If the phone rings, let it ring. Shared positive meals are a time to take a deep breath, enjoy each other’s company, strengthen relationships and savor good food.

One thing is fairly certain: You will never come to the sunset years of your life, look back and wish you’d spent fewer meals with your kids.

Remember, September 24.

Question: Do you plan to celebrate “A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children”? If so, tell us here.

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16 replies
  1. Marie says:

    My husband and I live in Pennsylvania. We have two adult children, one living in Utah and the other in Florida. When our children were growing up our family dinners were a priority. Every evening after one of us asked a blessing I would ask, “Who had something funny or interesting happen today?” We would all take turns sharing stories from our day. We limited dinner talk to only funny or interesting topics. Those are some of my fondest memories of times that the four of us shared.
    For those of you with children still living at home, treasure those years for they are fleeting.

  2. Deborah Groom says:

    When I think of family dinners I remember a Christmas where we had moved into a new house 6 days before Christmas. It was Christmas eve and I realized that there was no way to do a fancy dinner. My son was 7 and all I could dig out fo the crates was a package of tacos. I chopped up red and green peppers to add and called them Christmas tacos. I forgot about it until the next year where I could finally bring out the nice dishes and cook all day for a “proper” dinner. We sat down, my son looked at the table, and said nothing. I asked what was wrong. He said,” Well it’s nice and all but where are the Christmas tacos? I’ve been waiting all week for them”. Family time makes its own special memories. My son is now 14 but I never missed the Christmas tacos again.

  3. Pikkewyntjie says:

    We will have to postpone our “celebration” because my husband will be overseas for a few weeks dealing with a death in the family. Otherwise, we celebrate family dinnertime nearly every night. I will be eating dinner with my children that evening–as usual! 🙂

  4. Beth says:

    Our children are all grown now and we have grand kids as well, but every Sunday, my married son would invite us over for bbq at his house for dinner. We would all come, except for one who lives up north. It is at these dinners that we share our thoughts, our concerns and our prayer requests. It is at these dinners where we laugh, sometimes we cry if someone is hurting, we lift up and encourage and simply treasure every minute. Not only do we do Sunday dinners together, but we also vacation together. Yes it is during these meals that we seal our being a “one family supporting each other”…I am blessed

  5. Margaret F. says:

    We are very blessed to have all 5 of our children living near us. Sunday dinner is always a time when we get together and talk about everything that has gone on the past week and enjoy one another’s company. It does get crazy with 5 little children running around but I wouldn’t change it for anything. We also have a number of single women in our church that have no family living close and once a month we have them come to our home for dinner. Then we have a “family night” for them with the little grandkids participating.

  6. Jenn says:

    Our son is just 8.5 mos old and goes to bed before we eat. But we’re hosting a 15-year-old exchange student from Germany and we eat together every night. We talk about his day, share stories, and are getting to know each other. As a former exchange student, I know that these are the moments he’ll treasure for a lifetime (as will we).

  7. Lindy, MN says:

    When my chidren were younger we always ate dinner together. Now that they are all in the 30’s and no longer under my roof we have family dinner on Sundays. We started when they were children, inviting my father to Sunday dinner. The tradition has continued and usually all who are living within an hour of me come for dinner on Sunday night. This has lasted through their college years when we would often have “extras” at the table, and now it includes spouses and soon grandchildren. The Sunday dinner has never been mandatory attendance but most of the time they are all here and always enjoy each others company and the food,of course and just being with family. I am a very lucky mother.

    • Pikkewyntjie says:

      That’s great you are able to get together with your adult children! That’s such a rarity these days so do be grateful for that opportunity. My parents live on the other side of the country and my husband’s family live on the other side of the planet!

  8. Amy Spencer says:

    We will eat together as a family Monday, Sept. 24. We try to eat together most nights, but with 3 kids in Scouts on 2 different nights, 1 in soccer, 1 in baseball, 1 taking piano lessons, and a husband who often has evening meetings, there are a couple nights where we have to eat separately, sometimes even on the go from one activity to the next. Thankfully Mondays are doable.

  9. Anne Michelle Larr says:

    My kids and I ate dinner together last night in a fun different way. The evenings are starting to cool down so we lit a fire in the fireplace and roasted hotdogs and marshmallow and had smores. A fun dinner together. And lots of time to talk as you roast.

  10. Debbie McCarty Morgan says:

    We will be eating at Chili’s. September 24th is their fundraising day for St.Jude’s. We have done this as a family for at least the last four years. We eat together as a family often. My children are in their thirties. We get together weekly. It’s important to have family dinners even when your children are grown.

  11. Tammy says:

    I grew up eating dinner at the table with my parents and sister every night. Of course, we were not as busy as the kids are today. After my husband and I were married, we continued to do this night after night and continued after our daughter was born. We are a little disjointed right now because of daughter’s activites and my husband’s current job, but I’m hoping to get back to our regular routine soon! It really does make a difference in how we connect to one another.

  12. pmal64 says:

    this is something we as a family have always done. and now that my oldest is out of the house, she and her husband usually come to Sunday lunch!

  13. Drama Mama says:

    As a new Empty Nester, I’ve implemented family Sunday dinners – We fix for whoever can come and they are welcome to bring guests. (My kids are still single) It’s helping us stay connected and continue our sense of family. It also provides a family experience for guests who may have a fragmented family.

  14. bluewildfleur says:

    My children are all grown now but when they were small we had meals together 2 and sometimes 3 times a day..on the weekend it was 3 times. Meals were special. It wasn’t unusual to have other children show up at meal time. Meal time should be a festive time to be enjoyed and to discuss the days events.

  15. MitoMom says:

    Yes, of course, but I think it’s very sad that a special day needs to be proclaimed to encourage families to share dinner together. My family eats dinner together every night. It’s how my husband and I both grew up, and is such a no-brainer. I know families are very stressed and busy today, but perhaps we should all take a step back and prioritize what’s important in our lives.


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