When I was a child, I thought the calendar year started with September. It was all about the beginning of the school year, the changing season and the faster pace. Regardless of whether you have children at home, schedules become full and we tend to get back to a more structured lifestyle. In fact, we need structure to deal with committee meetings, after-school events and deadlines at work. One of the “structures” we put in place is dinner together. Even when I was a single young adult, the act of preparing dinner, setting a place at my table and enjoying my dinner seemed to bring balance to my day. It makes sense that September is National Family Meals Month™, created to encourage and educate Americans about the rewards of cooking at home and gathering at the family dinner table.
Growing up, eating dinner together was sacrosanct. Nonnegotiable. We also rarely ate out, either at a restaurant or <gasp!> a fast-food joint, and we never ate in front of the TV. Dinner was a time for us to share about our day, learn what was happening in the world, analyze yesterday’s field hockey game.
As a parent, I work hard to ensure that we maintain this structure despite the growing number of evening activities. Of course, not every supper is idyllic, but it’s an opportunity to learn how to resolve conflict, what matters to one other, and negotiating skills.