Finding Family Time

While distractions and scheduling can make eating together as a family difficult, every family must find what works for them


Ginny Lyons

Some families are forced to sacrifice family meals to their busy schedules, meaning that fast food is more likely on the plate than home cooking.

Family meals are great for everyday conversations and catching up, and they also teach children the importance of family time. Some families regularly eat meals together, while others don’t eat any at all, but every family has different rules and traditions in how they eat their meals and spend their time together.

Many people believe that a great way to have family time is through eating meals together as they are the perfect opportunity to talk and spend time with each other. ”I think it’s so important [to eat family meals] especially for little kids because they are learning how to have manners at the table. When we do go out to a restaurant, they can sit there and have a meal like a civilized human being,” said science teacher Ms. Lindsey Novak.

Family meals not only teach the basics of manners, they also help with socialization and communication. “It is a time to reconnect, to share stories, [and] it’s an opportunity to try and elicit information because sometimes teenagers aren’t always forthcoming,” said world language teacher Mr. Matthew McMerty-Brummer.

According to North Dakota State University (NDSU), 98% of parents agreed that having their family eat together at least once a day was important. However, that isn’t a reality for some families. “I think every family has their own groove, as long as they can find time to have family time together, for us it works that we have family time at meal time. I think having family time is what is important, time to sit down and be together,” said math teacher Ms. Joanie Sauer.

If you’re so busy that you can never sit down and eat together, you’re too busy.

— Mr. Scott Effertz

Life is busy, and some families are too preoccupied with busy schedules to sit down, talk, and eat a meal together. While certain families have limited meals together, others rarely get a chance to eat together. NDSU claims that 30- 35% of families often eat less that 3 meals a week together. “We’re usually too busy to eat together or [we are] getting food in the car on the way to different activities,” sophomore Collin Pollei said.

Even though it can be hard to get together for meals, family dinners prove to be great family time. Therefore, many families prohibit distractions at the dinner table to capitalize on this bonding time. Phones, books, magazines and computers can disrupt the essential communication during dinner. ”We had a very strict household so there were no cellphones at the dinner table. It would kind of freak my daughter’s friends out. When they would come over, we would actually collect them. Basically if you’re here with this group of people, be with this group of people,” said English teacher Mr. Scott Effertz.

There are different rules for every family regarding distractions, and there are also different practices determining who makes the meals for family dinner. Many families are changing the normal traditions and stereotypes regarding who cooks the meals for their families. “My dad makes the meals,” said senior Anna Luong.

Some families require the involvement of all of the members in order to make dinner, which adds to the family bonding time.  “All of us [cooked the meals], so sometimes we called family dinner, about 2 or 3 times a month. We would have family dinner where the kids would also invite their friends, so sometimes the girls would decide the menu, sometimes my wife would, sometimes I would do it, so everyone did different things,” said Effertz.

Without family meals, children can miss a substantial amount of family time. Time together as a family helps kids grow up and learn manners and the rules of socializing. ”We’re a busy society and certainly we moved past the illusional 1950s and 60s where the TV shows showed everybody eating family dinner every night together. If you’re so busy that you can never sit down and eat together, you’re too busy. My wife and I really make an effort to sit down, cook a meal, [and] eat together,” said Effertz.