The other moms in the room murmured approvingly. I glanced down.
“We don’t eat dinner together, and we’re OK,” I said.
I was greeted with patronizing grimaces. The topic changed quickly.
I didn’t realize I was walking into a hornet’s nest that day, but there it was. So is this it? I thought. The breast versus bottle debate for the preschool set? Eating dinner together As A Family, as a Thing, as a way to judge your parenting prowess?
We don’t eat dinner together. I get home with the kids at 4:30 or 5 most weekdays. My husband gets home at 6:30. I feed the kids early and then the adults eat when the kids are in bed. And I don’t feel a single ounce of guilt.
You Google “eating dinner together” and get a million preachy bits of wisdom.
“But there really is no excuse for not eating dinner together as a family when you look at the benefits for both parents and children. After all who wouldn’t want to have better communication with their children or see them perform better academically? I know I would.” (families.com)
No excuse? I’m sorry, but must be nice. How many parents work evening or night shifts? Guess they should quit their jobs. Are your kids hungry and ready to eat at 5? Sorry, here’s a banana, we’ll eat in two hours when our perfectly-balanced meal is done cooking, and you all are losing your ever-loving minds.
Here’s what I want to know. When did eating dinner together become the be-all, end-all of family time? Do these studies truly show causation or just correlation?
Every day, we commute together to and from work/preschool and have 20 uninterrupted minutes to talk in the car. We read books together every night before bed. We walk the dog together.
On weekends, we go to parks and the zoo and grocery shop together and attend church. We spend hours talking about which animals poop (and which don’t) with our three year old. We repeat “go go go” and “hi hi hi” back at our one year old all day long. We tell them about how our days were (and, always, what we had for lunch).
Our kids are smart, wonderful and loved.
Doesn’t THAT matter?
Let’s not make dinner the scapegoat here. How about we all just sit down and talk with our families when we can and skip the judgment?