…to have family dinner: When my kids are 16 and 15 (instead of 8 and 7) and we are dealing with friendship dramas, SATs, sexting episodes, and God only knows what else (Parents of teen-agers: please refrain from telling me what else) dinner will be so firmly established as my family’s 6:30 Magnetic North, that my kids’ hormone-raging, eye-rolling, parent-resenting bodies will be hardwired to come home, sit down, and talk to me anyway. In other words, I will have them right where I want them.
In other news…Can you believe it’s October 29 and I haven’t even mentioned Halloween???!!?? In case you’re scrambling for party ideas, I found this photo of monster cupcakes on my iPhone taken last year. (Hence the grainy photo quality, sorry!) As usual, I bought the cupcakes, made the kids a model to copy, then had them decorate the rest. The hair and eyeballs are licorice and the mouths are gumdrops, all of which I found in the candy bins at our local Asian produce place. If you are hosting a pre-trick-or-treating gathering, might I suggest the Pot Roast with Hominy and Sweet Potatoes on page 263 of Time for Dinner? There are four other ideas for “self-serve stovetop” entertaining in that section, which is always the vibe I want on Halloween night. Who wants to be messing around with placemats when there are vampire fangs to insert and hair to be spray-painted? Not me. Happy Halloween!
cute cupcakes. Reason #73 is the best reason for family dinner yet.
I really believe that dinner as a family is the key to happy, successful children. My kids are 23,20 and 15.
Jenny: Thanks for the reinforcement…I am banking on the family dinner as the only time I see my kid when they are teens….and from what I hear it happens quicker than you can believe.
Take heart–do not listen to those that say all teenagers are hideous lumps of irrational hormones. It is not true!! I have 2 teenage boys and I actually enjoy them(gasp!). Dinner helps cover the rough patches. Love your site–
absolutely! I have four boys -two teens and two much younger and we all use dinnertime as a time to connect with each other. And though teens can be tough, they need us and they can also be so sweet.
Jenny~ I couldn’t agree more with reason #73. As the mom of two daughters (4 & 2) I feel like I need to start my short list of reasons why family dinner is beyond important…I was lucky enough to have parents who were both teachers and didn’t work the crazy hours that seem almost normal nowadays. Granted, I was an only child, but growing up, it never crossed my mind to NOT come home for dinner (even through high school…and my mom said that they arranged dinner around my sports practices and extra curricular obligations so that not showing up WASN’T an option). My husband unfortunately wasn’t raised like that and we sometimes struggle to meet in the middle with family dinners, minus the tv blaring, etc. I will get us all around the table, even when (insert hormonal drama here). Sorry for the rambling…amen sister!
We were on the same page this week – I posted almost identical cupcakes on Friday morning!
As for dinner – my ten year old has so many “life” questions at the moment and almost all of them come up at dinner. I’m so happy he feels comfortable asking us questions and I only suggest that you try to refrain from serving anything that can easily be choked on!
“Might I suggest the Pot Roast with Hominy and Sweet Potatoes on page 263 of Time for Dinner?” Yes you may! Took your excellent suggestion and served it up for friends and their kids on Saturday night. A smashing success. After a little separating/spacing of the food, two of the four kids ate the sweet potatoes and pot roast, code-named steak. The other two kiddos are classic Refuseniks. The parents devoured everything. Delicious, easy, and great for a Fall night when you want to chuckle with friends rather than watch a risotto like a hawk. Readers: Buy Time For Dinner.
My son is only 13 months old and I have already established a dinner routine for the very reason you mentioned above. I love the communication that happens then and it just feels good to enjoy dinner together.
Minty Pea Todd! You rock! So glad it was a success. But don’t get any funny ideas — I am expecting risotto next time you cook for me. And of course, this:
i would argue that reason should be higher than #73
Hey if you have a two parent home with one or both working 9-5 well good luck to you.
I have a firefighter husband (several days on, several days off, several nights on, serveral nights off) so we’ll have to leave him out of it. Also a swim kid. Swim kids are always ready to eat dinner but not always available. He trains 5 nights a we,k 2 hours a night (he’s a state swimmer) so we’ll include him when we see him. So that leaves me and the squishy 6 year old who is beginning to have a bit of a life himeslf and of course wants to join, you guessed it, the swim team. So maybe he won’t be around.
Can I say though, we spend an absolute ton of time together really though not around the dinner table. We all smell of chlorine but well, we make it work.
All that being said, that sloppy joe recipe is a keeper:).
I love Reason #73. It reminded me of this fabulous little book called “The Hidden Art of Homemaking” by Edith Schaeffer. Such a cheesy title, yet such a treasure of a book. Each chapter is about a different “art” of homemaking from food, to flower arranging, to music, to gardening.
Anyway, she speaks about your reason #73 in her chapter on “Flower Arranging”, which really is just a chapter on how important it is to take time to make beauty in your home. She says,
“You cannot expect to have a close relationship with a teenager who, after all, is still the same person as the two-year-old you stuck crying into bed…the five-year-old you never shared beauty with, the six-year-old you found boring or you ‘trained’ to never butt in, but never gave time to make a cosy and beautiful background out of which you could talk to her.”
She goes on to say,
“If you never have time to enhance moments together by making some preparation for beauty as well as for meeting necessities you are apt to miss altogether the spontaneous response and opening up of the personality which this would bring.”
I love your blog because I feel like it fosters this same attitude. I’m a new reader, and I have a 2.5 year old and a 5 month old. It’s easy to forget the importance of starting these sweet rituals even now.
Thanks for encouraging so many people to sit down and eat together. And talk together. And share life together. You’ve been an encouragement to me.
Oh, and your cookbook is on my amazon wish list 🙂 Happy Christmas to me!
I would simply like to second Melissa.
As a family, we try to sit down with our 9- and 6-yr olds for either a warm lunch or dinner or both (when we are extremely lucky). But we have noticed that dinners are somehow more special. All of us are more relaxed, there is less of a hectic to finish up in order to get to the next thing, but best of all, the kids have wonderful discussions with us, and can be extremely witty. So far, so good then. And long may it last. 🙂
Love your work. Please keep inspiring us! And everything else that Melissa wrote… 😉 Thank you, Melissa, for putting it down so well!
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