Coming together around the dinner table not only ensures that your kids receive a good meal, it’s also one of the easiest ways to nourish family bonds. By preparing and sharing weekly meals, parents can create special moments where children learn about their cultural history, connect with their roots and feel like a valued member of the family unit.
In her book, The Surprising Power of Family Meals, author Miriam Weinstein shows that shared meals are an essential method of family bonding. Feeding is one of the most basic ways to show that we care for one another. What, how and when a family eats reflects their unique cultural identity. Sharing meals, then both reminds families of their love for one another and passes on traditions through the generations.
On her Family Dinner blog, Kids Cook Monday advocate Laurie David notes that meal-time stories about customs, heirlooms and ancestors can strengthen family identity even further. Research from Emory University supports this idea, showing that children who know about their family history through meals and other interactions not only have closer relationships with their family members, but also have higher levels of self esteem and a greater sense of control over their own lives.
The connections fostered over shared meals also help children feel safe and connected to their immediate family. For young children, family dinners have been shown to provide feelings ofsecurity and belonging. In a recent survey by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA), teens who partook in frequent family dinners were significantly more likely to reporthigh-quality relationships with both their mother and their father and say that their parents know what’s really going on in their lives. What’s more, three-quarters of teens who reported having dinner with their family at least once a week said the interaction and the togetherness were the best part of the meal.
Share Valentine’s love with your family this week by having a Kids Cook Monday. Even if you don’t have a lot of time to gather round the table, pausing at least once a week to bond with your kids will help foster their sense of safety and belonging. Help your children connect with their family history by telling them how their grandparents met, sharing the story of a family heirloom, or teaching them how to make a traditional recipe.