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Eating together

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

So, this feels a bit more like a rant than a question, but I'm pretty certain there is a question in here somewhere ...


I’m kind of curious if this is important to people, and why. A lot of the moms I know are very strict about their children eating with them, and I don’t really get it. Of course, in my house, it’s just my daughter and I, so we’ll more often than not eat while she’s watching TV and I’m watching something on Netflix next to her. So this isn’t exactly ideal quality time, but we have a lot of quality time the rest of the day in my opinion. Dinner has just somehow become my “brain-relaxing” time.


Also, if it so happens that she’s “busy” (because she’s four, she’s not actually busy), I will not ask her to come right away. I’ll put some tinfoil over her food and she can have it when she’s ready. I don’t understand why this is such terrible parenting according to the moms I know…


This is such a big deal for me because growing up, my parents were very strict about me eating NOW, completely disregarding whether I was hungry or not. I couldn’t even finish whatever I was doing at the time, because I had to come eat NOW. Probably because this was the only “bad” thing my parents ever did to me, I’m assuming it’s why it’s stuck with me so much.

post #2 of 11

but what does eating together really mean?


eating one meal together every single day? like dinner? 


is the 'together' part that's the most important?


i can see wanting that when dd was young. but i dont know how you do that when the kids get older and have a busy life. around 10 or 11.


its hard to do the 'together' around dinner these days. at 11 we still do tuck into bed. and traditionally that's when dd has opened up and talked so we still kinda carry on that tradition a few times a week.

post #3 of 11
We always ate together growing up and my dd and I eat together every meal we are together. Sometimes we eat quietly and are just together, sometimes we watch a show and eat, and usually we talk about a variety of things. I make sure meals are spaced out so we are both hungry, give transition time, and we both put down what we were doing to be together.

There is so much that revolves around my dd that I am fine with her needing to put something on hold for fifteen to twenty minutes while we eat. The older my dd has become the more she has come to value shared mealtimes and I see them as even more important for staying connected. Some days our mealtimes and bedtime are the only moments we get to really just connect.
post #4 of 11
I guess there are probably a few reasons it is important for me.

- culturally the sharing of food is a nurturing, celebratory, family/friends gathering sort of activity

- it is an opportunity for us all to be together in the midst of busy days when one person is at work, another at school, another at home etc for much of the day

- it is an opportunity to talk as a whole family so everyone is involved in the conversation (similar to the previous point I guess)

- it is a chance for our children to learn social skills and to learn about food (we often talk about food and food prep, especially if we've cooked something new to us)

- I'd prefer my kids not to get into the habit of eating in front of the TV as it has been linked to obesity/overeating

All that said, we usually only eat dinner together. And, I *love* eating by myself in front of the TV. I did it for every meal I ate at home when I was single and it is a big treat for me now I'm not.

I don't think you are a terrible parent for not eating together at the table. As it is just the two of you, you probably have plenty of other opportunities to connect and chat.
post #5 of 11

We personally eat every meal together but I won't be an asshole and tell you that it's terrible parenting that you don't. How rude and judgy of them.

post #6 of 11

I eat with some of the kids, not all, and rarely with Dh. We probably only eat as as an entire family once a week if that. We have conflicting schedules, some one is always coming or going. DD1 is a competitive gymnast and is always at the gym until 7:30-8pm, the little kids are in bed by then. DH is often picking up DD2 at dinner time from karate. The two little boys (4 and 2) and I eat together and then DD2 and DH usually eat together while I put the boys to bed. I sit in the kitchen with DD1 later when she eats her dinner that I've warmed up. We find other times during the day to chat with each kid. Dinner time in a family of 6 including one child with ASD who struggles with significant food issues, is not easy, fun, nor peaceful in any way. It is actually better to have to have spilt up like this even though this wasn't intentional, just how our schedules are. 

post #7 of 11
We pretty much always eat dinner as a family, and we eat breakfast together on the weekends, but weekday breakfasts/lunches aren't typically eaten together.

I think since you're getting lots of quality time with your DD, there's no reason that mealtimes specifically have to be focused, quality time. When kids are older and in school all day, or when kids are in daycare while both parents are at work all day, then dinner time can be the only time available for the whole family to sit and connect, so I can see how that idea became popular, and I do think there's value in it in those situations.

But if that connection is happening lots throughout the day, then I can totally understand using mealtimes as a little mental break for yourself! I do that at lunchtime. DD is home from kindergarten by lunchtime, but I set her up with a show and sit by myself and read a magazine (or MDC!) while we eat our lunches.
post #8 of 11

we try to eat together.  it's not a better thing, it's really practical.  i cook from scratch, gluten-free food. we don't have a lot of money.  our meals are simple, but i spend a lot of time and effort to make sure they're balanced and tasty.  my kids eat better and more diverse when we all do it together.  


breakfast is our biggest together meal- i make pancakes or eggs every morning.  we normally have lunch too- it's a break between school and older kids doing solo projects and younger kids going to naps.  meals are a part of our daily routine.


dinner is harder b/c of schedule and my being tired, but we try to make dinner together happens.


w/ just 2 people, i don't think i'd be so focused on the system.  but w/ 7, often more (guests) it just makes more sense to do it together!  i mean, just making that much food is intense, let alone clean-up.  we gotta have some organization or else it would be non-stop chaos!

post #9 of 11
My husband works away from home 4/6 weeks so its usually just me and my 2 kids. Breakfast for my 3 yr old is in front of morning cartoons while I get ready for work (or on the weekends while I doze on the couch and cuddle with him). My 1 yr old sleeps in so she eats breakfast with my mom and dad as well as lunch. Dinner is usually something separate for them that is quick or leftovers for my daughter and something that my son will eat (he is picky and going through a phase where he really needs to be in control of what he eats so yes, I am a short order cook at the moment.) Usually I do my best to sit with them at the table but sometimes I am tidying up the kitchen and living room (opens concept) and before I know it they are finished. When my daughter was first born and I was alone and overwhelmed a lot of the time, my son ate a lot of meals in front of the TV but we have phased that out and TV is off at dinner and lunch and we sit at the table. On weekdays I read the note from my sons daycare over dinner and we talk about his day. I like it a lot better now but to each his own and I don't judge whatsoever:)
post #10 of 11
It's important to me, personally, so I make an effort to make it happen as much as possible. The expectations are flexible but the overall idea--we sit down at the table and eat together stays the same. The kids are welcome to get up and leave the table if they start getting fidgety and are not interested in staying as long as the adults.
post #11 of 11

I emphasize family dinner time because it gets all 3 of us in the room together.  My partner is an introvert, and he and our son have not been getting along so well the past few years.  They are together after school until I get home from work at dinnertime.  If I let him, my partner will disappear upstairs immediately after he finishes cooking and not be seen again until I've got the kid in bed and my partner comes seeking couple time--at which point I am peeved because I've been the Parent On Duty all evening and that often makes it difficult to get any of my chores done or relax, so it's a bad dynamic.  I feel that his avoiding conflict with our son by minimizing time with him is never going to resolve the problems they are having!  Also, I need us all in the same room so we can discuss plans for things we're going to do together, things one of us is doing at a specific time that will affect the others, and decisions we need to make together.  Also, it's just more efficient if we all eat when the food is hot.


Breakfast is less of an eat-together meal because we don't all eat the same thing (I need a lot more substantial breakfast than they do--different metabolism), someone may be hungry while another is still in the shower, and my partner is packing the kid's lunch.  Usually we all are in the kitchen/dining room simultaneously at some point, but it's a busy, tired time so not good for conversation.


My parents forbade reading at the table, and I hated that, so as an adult I do it a lot!  My partner and I agreed long ago that we could both read as long as we're willing to put it down when someone wants to talk to us.  But my son told us a few months ago that when we are reading he feels excluded, like he CAN'T talk to us because we don't want to be with him.  So the rule now is no reading at dinner unless you are eating slowly after everyone else has left the table.  I can still read at breakfast even if my son is at the table with me.  I like this compromise.  (Using handheld technology counts as "reading".  Hopping up to look up a word in the dictionary as part of the conversation does not.)


Sometimes my son wants to watch TV at mealtime.  He was doing it a lot for a while, and not only were we missing family interaction, we adults didn't like the TV noise and light in the background.  Now our rule is no TV before school, but TV during breakfast is okay on weekends; dinner may be eaten in front of TV once a week maximum.

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