Chew on this!

An article in today’s paper stresses the benefits that eating together as a family has on kids–and parents, too. Kids who come from families that break bread regularly tend to have better self-esteem, better grades, better friends, better manners, and a better chance of staying out of trouble. Why? Mainly because those children have to face their parent(s) at the dinner table and be held accountable for their day. It’s hard for a kid to get away with reeking of cigarette smoke (or something worse) when he is sitting three feet away from the house warden.

I have always been an advocate of the family meal. Although some people consider it old fashioned or impossible to make happen in these busy days of shuttling kids around from practice to game to recital to concert, I find it can happen. If I can make it work with four kids (not the average two), who cumulatively have been in all sorts of activities (soccer, baseball, cross country, swim, track and field, dance, water polo, band, Girl Scouts, religious education classes)–many of which have run concurrently–then so can others.

The meal itself doesn’t have to be a four-course, well-thought-out ordeal. It can be as simple as store-bought pizza or even fast food, when time is tight. But it does have to be somewhat consistent. Seven days, no. Three or four or more, yes.

It’s cliche to say, but kids do grow right before your eyes. One day they’re playing with flight attendant Barbie, the next day they’re on a plane to the opposite coast, visiting people whom you have never even met. Yes, all you people of young children, listen up: It does happen that fast.

So, take the time today to sit down, share a meal and discuss the day, because the days will be gone before you know it.

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