Today at the Kitchen we’re offering up something a little bit different in light of the holidays. Yes, OF COURSE it’s related to food, but it comes our way via a therapist and professor of psychology who practices here in Boston, Anne Fishel. Her essay “Reaping the Benefits of Family Dinners” was brought to my attention by a fellow mom of preschoolers who is also Anne’s colleague at Mass General.
This isn’t an essay solely relevant to parents (parents of toddlers or teenagers, especially) or to 20-somethings dreading coming home this time of year on account of that ubiquitous, religion-blind holiday activity, family meals. Rather, any one of us mildy (or wildly) interested in food and the dynamic of the table can take away from Anne’s essay some thought-provoking ideas about the importance of how we eat and what we eat together. Keep reading the comments posted at the end of her piece and you’ll see that the concept of family dinners can have an impact on the college dining hall and the scourge of eating disorders.
My own self, I grew up in a family that ate together every night, I mean every night, til the day I, the baby, left for college. I don’t know how my parents pulled it off since there were four of us kids. And it never felt like a burden for me as a teenager. No kidding. Miraculous?
Now, as a mom of two little people, I’d say my family of four eats dinner together that many evenings a week on average. In our circle of friends, I believe we do it more often than most. Believe me, enjoying the dinner I’d made and eating it with my 2- and 3-year olds were mutually exclusive activities. But that’s gotten better as they grow and, without needing to refer to the literature on the subject, I intuit that our time around the table is a formative thing for them. I’ll work to keep us eating at the same time, not in shifts, for as long as I can. But I suspect the day-to-day details of our family life at this moment look a whole lot different than they will five years from now. And certainly they look much different from those my parents lived when they were at this point in their own lives.
I am interested in knowing. For all of you reading the PRK blog, how did family dinners impact (or not) your interest in food as a hobby, a passion, a career? Do you make extra effort to have family dinners or to regularly share home-cooked meals with friends? Do you think our collective attitude as a nation towards family meals has changed?