The Family Dinner

There is always a lot of discussion about the importance of having a family meal with your kids. For my family, like a lot of others, that meal is dinner. I honestly wish that it wasn’t.

I find dinner time to be THE most stressful part about my whole day. There is a huge preparation period for such a little payoff. Sometimes I feel like I am wasting my time making the kids a dinner that I know will most likely go uneaten. I know what foods the kids like, I just don’t know what days they might like to eat them. I could ask them before dinner what they might like to eat, and when the time comes to actually eat, they could have changed their mind. So much fun.

20121023-202644.jpg Once dinner is made and put in front of them, it only seems that the actual time that we sit down together is spent arguing over the kids not eating. What kind of enjoyable family time is it when you are trying to shove green beans down your kids throats, while they are yelling at you that they will only eat pasta. It frustrates me to no end.

I would ask you if this is the quality time that we are looking for. In an ideal world (one that does not exist) the family is sitting down discussing the days events while they eat every last bit of their beef stroganoff. Do homes like this actually exist, and is it possible with a five and eight year old that don’t understand the importance of the family meal?

I know we should be doing this every day, but it’s hard. I find myself rushing away from the family table because I can’t put up with the constant battles over food. Dinner time should be a time that we look back on fondly as one where we came together as a family; it’s an important time indeed, but more often it seems like a time that I would rather forget.



The Beginning
About Daddysincharge

After 15 years as a News Photographer in the fast paced world of television news, I am now knee deep in Legos and laundry as the stay at home dad to to little boys. It was my choice to stay at home, so don't look at me like I am some kid of freak show. We're all parents just trying to raise our kids the right way. Some might be better at it than others, but if our kids love us for who we are, who cares.

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  1. JamesHudyma says:

    It’s as if you are writing about my family dinners.  
    I feel the EXACT same way.  I honestly believe in the value of eating as a family and in my mind, dinner (we call it supper) should be that meal.  99% of the time I leave the dinner table feeling defeated; still, we keep trying to make it happen.  
    Maybe “those families” went through the same thing and it just clicks when the kids are older???

    • @JamesHudyma maybe after 10 years of this constant battle it will kick in. I don’t know if its worth it.

  2. “I know what foods the kids like, I just don’t know what days they might like to eat them.”
    Love that line!  And with regards to pasta, I hear ya.  Without crunching the numbers, I’d say my oldest eats pasta 98.76% of the time.  
    To your larger point, I’m as exasperated as you are.  I say to my wife all the time, “I can’t believe they’ve completely ruined something that used to be so special.”  Dinner used to be a nice wind-down time at the end of the day that my wife and I enjoyed.  A great meal would be cooked, some wine would be had, and all was well in the world.  Enter complaining, whining, encroachment of personal space, and just general chaos.
    I think it will be all worth it in the end though.  Just recently, with our oldest starting K, we are now getting stories out of him about his day, and the 2yo even says, “Me too, me too,’ requesting that we ask him how his day was next.  Cute, but they still have a long way to go.

  3. ManvDadhood says:

    Were you spying on me dinner table this week? I have trouble getting the kids to sit and eat, and not be animals on a regul;ar basis. The only way I can, is when I spend the hour+ before dinner keeping them out of the kitchen so they are both hungry for food and for my attention. Last night, however, my wife did not have work or classes, and it was a magical time of productivity and playing as she cooked, and our daughter helped, and I played with our son, and all 4 of us sat down to eat at one table. It was magic, but it is also something I have trouble doing regularly on my own, and they may not be interested in eating what I made when I really try.

  4. Left Coast Dad says:

    1. Consistency
    We have dinner together as a family almost every night. It takes a major event for us not to eat together as a family.
    2. One meal
    I don’t make a meal for the adults and one for the kids. If they want to go and get something else, they can, but I make one dinner.
    3. Low expectations
    I don’t expect my kids to eat the dinner. They can go to bed hungry. I do expect halfway decent table manners.

    • Left Coast Dad trust me, we make one meal… I know they won’t go hungry if they don’t eat it, but it’s just so annoying that this dance has to take place every night

      • Left Coast Dad says:

         @DaddysinCharge  quit dancing. Cut their portion in half, and don’t expect them to eat it. Less food wasted, less heartache on your part.

    • ManvDadhood says:

      Left Coast Dad I like the lowering of expectations. I’m not going to get much but the idea of sitting together to start dinner out of the whole process.

  5. @DaddysinCharge With 5 kids, there is nothing peaceful about dinner at our house.  I just have the hope that as they get older  we can start to have real conversations instead of arguing about  how I know you don’t “like” green beans, but you will eat them anyway.  You are not alone my friend.

    • @YKIHAYHT I don’t know how you do it. I think I might just curl up in a little ball and die.

This is what I think...