A Commitment to Family – Eating Together
During February, the novelty of a brand new year and a fresh beginning may start to fade a bit. Some people find that their pledge to a New Year’s resolution is dwindling down. Perhaps the goal is to improve communication between parents and children in the coming year, but the hectic pace of life seems to be getting in the way. It is known that for Center Grove area parents, being involved with their children is a constant commitment. Some families have found that eating together as a family is a natural way to strengthen family bonds. Sites on the internet such as sciencedaily.com and children.webmd.com note data from recent studies that sharing meals together reinforces family ties. Although it seems challenging to do in today’s world, there are multiple benefits that far outweigh the extra bit of planning it takes. The research shows children from families that eat together have better grades, higher test scores, and are more likely to be drug and alcohol free. In the 2012 book, The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg states that families who habitually eat supper together raise children with greater emotional control and more confidence. Below are some Center Grove area families who routinely eat together and some tips they have used to streamline the process.
For Kelly Santos and her husband Juan, sharing an evening meal with their children Celena, 9, and Gian Lucca, 5, is a way to reconnect with each other after a hectic day. Kelly, who lives in Greenwood, but teaches in the Indianapolis Public School s system, admits “If I were to sit down when I first come home, it would be all over.” She starts making dinner right away without even taking off her high heels. It helps that Kelly enjoys cooking and her family is willing to sample cuisines from other countries. Although Kelly grew up in the Center Grove area, Juan is from Venezuela. She states that the internet has made it possible to access recipes from other cultures that have become family favorites such as Thai food. In fact, the family likes to duplicate restaurant dishes they sample on weekends, so weekday cooking becomes less of a chore and more of a shared interest. Kelly finds that buying packages of fresh vegetables already cut up, has become a real time saver. When asked about the benefits of eating together as a family, both parents feel that it provides an opportunity to instill good manners and helps solidify the two cultures of their international family.
Eating together as a family is nothing new for Troy and Cindy Jarvis of Bargersville; it is a family ritual that they have practiced for years. Between the activities of two teenage children, Cayman and Olivia, and their own full plate of work and community involvement, these parents feel strongly that it is an important part of their lives. Although they are the epitome of a busy Bargersville family, they make a point of finding the time to sit down and share the evening meal together. Depending on the night’s activities, they eat early or late, preferring to adjust the dinnertime rather than to eat in shifts. Cayman, 17, explains, “It keeps us all on track.” Olivia, 14, echoes her brother by adding,
“Things just don’t go as right” when the family doesn’t it together. These statements, along with a chore chart
hanging on the wall support the theory that the family meal is a keystone habit. In other words, when a family eats together, there is a ripple effect and other aspects of family life become more organized. Cindy confesses that it is necessary to think ahead. She has found that buying large family size packages of chicken, pork, or beef helps. Not only does she end up paying a better price per pound, the meat is on hand so she is able to plan meals. Cindy uses the crock-pot often and also enjoys the ease of preparing stir-fry. Other family favorites are Italian dishes and casseroles. Cayman and Olivia take an interest in the meal preparation if they are around the kitchen. One stipulation that Troy and Cindy insist on is that no electronics are allowed at dinner. They would never want the shared laughter and conversation to be interrupted by the ringing of a cell phone!
About Yates Yummies
Julie Yates is a former teacher and current food blogger. She enjoys sharing quick, easy, and healthy recipes with people who love to cook. Visit her blog at www.yatesyummies.blogspot.com.