Family life can be very hectic at times, with everyone’s targets and commitments dictating the family’s priorities. One of the few times during the day when a family may come together is during breakfast or dinner. This also may depend on the way parent’s shift work may come in the family schedule, however with some planning it may be possible to schedule some time for one of these meals to be an opportunity for the whole family to come together. Why would this be important for the family however?
- When children are still very young, meal times with the family is an opportunity for learning and development. The interaction happening at this time would boost verbal development and communication skills, it would also mean that children are copying skills of handling utensils and healthy eating habits.
- Teaching about family meals is a natural consequence when sharing meals together. Not only teaching your children about nutrition and food choices, but planning for a meal and sharing responsibility for roles related to meal preparation and cleaning is important. Another aspect of this would be food preferences and budgeting. These aspects are all important learning topics to be tackled with growing children in order to further encourage their decision making skills and independence.
- An aspect of sharing meals together is that of communicating about one’s day, in retrospect if this time is in the evening during dinner or else in planning if it happens during breakfast. Finding and establishing a time for the family to come together and share with each other important aspects of daily life is very important, especially as children start growing up and communicating together may become more difficult. If this time together is established beforehand, from when children are at a young age, means that it would be less resisted in the future and more turbulent teen years.
- Families who give time to each other are more able to offer support during difficult times. This is because more matters and conflicts may be discussed and different perspectives may be explored. Parents who discuss their own conflicts and difficulties, and explore how they cope and solve these situations, are also passing on their skills to their children who would learn by observation and modelling.
- Self-esteem and emotional regulation are a natural consequence when an individual feels understood and heard. This would follow if as a family unit there is interest in each other and you have the space to share about your successes and difficulties. This would also foster a positive mental health and coping skills. Loneliness and isolation are common factors of mental health problems, thus if from an early age you are used to sharing with others and focusing on each other without distractions, you are better equipped to avoid feeling lonely and isolated in the future.
- This leads to the last point of avoiding distraction and being mindful of specific times during the day. By sharing meal times together and avoiding distractions such as technology during this time, each individual is learning how to unwind and pace oneself in a peaceful and grounded manner. By being mindful and reflective of oneself, each individual would be better able to be more self-aware and better able to cope with anxiety and feelings of stress.
By taking into consideration all of these benefits that one may gain as a family, it would require some planning and structuring so that this time isn’t one fraught with expectation and anticipation, but a positive time during the day for each member to get together and connect.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Abigail Church is a Humanistic Integrative Counsellor who works with adults and children through counselling with Willingness. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.