Busy schedules seem to make it nearly impossible to share a meal together as a family. Even though you, your partner, and your children may all have busy schedules, having family dinner is important. Not only does eating together nourish your body, it’s a nurturing tradition.

Many families these days have allowed their schedules to dictate how and where they eat. Rather than spending dinner time together as a family around the table, there are meetings, sports practice, and other obligations to meet. As a result, they may be growing further and further apart.

One of the many benefits of sharing family dinner together is that it keeps the family connected. The children know they’ll have their parents’ undivided attention at that time. The family can talk about their lives, share concerns, and seek support and advice for dealing with problems.

For many people, as they were growing up, having dinner together as a family was one way to share their love for one another. There was time to communicate opinions without fear of reprisal, and few topics were off limits. For children, having their parents’ undivided attention was an expression of love.

Sharing meals is also a way for a family to develop trust among the members. The family dinner table was the place parents could teach their children to share their feelings, reinforce the family’s values, learn to take turns talking, and explain why family traditions are important.

Research has proven overwhelmingly that children who have meals with their family at least twice a week are less likely to try drugs or alcohol, less likely to become depressed, and more likely to make good grades. Who knew eating with your family around the dinner table could be so good for children and teens?

Another benefit of having a family dinner is helping your family develop good eating habits. When you’re eating at home, you’re less likely to be eating as much junk food. If you’re running from place to place, you’ll likely pick up fast food in between activities. That’s no way to eat on regular basis. Eating at home allows you to provide fruits and vegetables, control sweets, and control the fats your family eats.

Eating at home is also considerably cheaper than eating out. You have control over how much you spend, the serving sizes your family eats and the types of foods you buy. Since you’re at home, why not teach the children and teens in your family how to cook so they’ll have that skill when they move out?

It is possible someone in the family will have an activity or appointment that can’t be broken, and that’s okay. Having an occasional meal where the whole family can’t be present isn’t a problem. When you’re trying to create a nurturing tradition such as family dinner, it’s important to be flexible but not allow the interruptions to your family dinners become the norm.