Traits of Healthy Families #10 Valuing Table Time

Categories: Family and Holidays.

This post is guest written by Cassidy Ward, currently a sophomore Public Relations major at Harding University

Laughter, arguing, crying, rejoicing, complaining, praising, and praying. All these and more I have experienced while gathering around the table with family to eat. One of the things I appreciate most about coming home from college during the holidays is family table time. Spending time together at the table to eat and converse during the holidays is important because it’s a time to reconnect, grow closer, and learn new things about your family and yourself.

I grew up in a family where it was a priority to eat meals together with the added rule of no electronics. I appreciate this everyday tradition that my parents upheld. Spending time with family during meals is important to me because I have many memories both good and bad that happened around the table. I remember this is where my parents told me a relative had died. It’s also where I asked my parents’ advice about big life decisions. Many important conversations that I had with my parents and siblings were because we took time out of our days to eat around the table together.

There are many benefits that come from family table time, not only during the holiday season but also every day of the year. This is where I learned how to communicate better because I heard new vocabulary just by listening to my parents talk about their day. In the article titled, “The most important thing you can do with your kids?” by Anne Fishel, researchers found young kids learned 1,000 rare words at the dinner table, compared to only 143 from parents reading storybooks aloud. Kids who have a large vocabulary read earlier and more easily. Family table time is where I learned how to have proper manners and be a better conversationalist in other social settings.

According to Dr. Fishel, co-founder of The Family Dinner Project, sharing a family meal is good for the spirit, the brain and the health of all family members. Fishel explains that recent studies link regular family dinners with many beneficial behaviors: lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy and depression, as well as higher grade-point averages and self-esteem.  Given the problems we see in the mid-Ohio valley with drugs and depression, having more family dinners together seems like an easy fix!

Gathering around the table to eat is important for the parents and the children. It’s a time to catch up on each other’s lives, listen to stories, learn new words, and simply enjoy spending time together. The holiday season is the perfect time to start the everyday tradition of family table time. I’m thankful for the memories I have around the dinner table and look forward to more when I come home for Christmas break.

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