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Thread: Eating Dinner Together

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Eating Dinner Together

    Comments in a recent ZG post have inspired this thread. Let's discuss "Eating Dinner Together".....

    When this Bear was a young lad growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, just about every family gathered at the dinner table, at the same time. For many, stay-at-home Mom had prepared the big bowls of whatever was on the menu for that evening. Not in my family, but in many families, a simple prayer was uttered and everybody then chowed-down.

    The family would talk about their day, ask questions, argue about what took place ("Billy took my dice!) that day. Dad would ask about school. Teenager "Tee" would eat quick, ask to be excused, and rush off. Moments later we would hear his 1959 Ford Station Wagon starting up and roaring down the street.

    During my first marriage, eating dinner together was only an occasional event, because of work and school schedules. As my life stumbled on, eating dinner together morphed into the category of "a special event". Family get-togethers, holiday dinners.....stuff like that.

    Today, dinner for me is often served (by me) at the computer table or on the couch (can you say, "Davenport, Iowa"? ), with the news or The Weather Channel on.
    Even on weekends, with more free time, dinner may be a big deal "cooking wise" (takes time to make my famous chili or prep and grill some chicken) but the family does not all sit down at the dinner table and give it the "ole Cleaver family" gabfest.

    Times certainly have changed.

    What about you? When you were still home, was it family dinner table time or did TV tray tables and microwaveable mac and cheese light up your life? What say you?

    Theodore Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Growing up we always ate dinner at the table that we aptly referrred to as the "dinner table". The television was turned off. We would also eat at the table together every morning, except that usually my dad was at work.

    My ex wifes family did the same thing. And we carried this forward to our family, although increasingly my wife would be absent during dinner. This was one of the symptoms of unraveling of our relationship. She had better things to do than eat with her family.

    Today, my children eat at my dinner table during every meal that they are with me.
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    We lived under an ironclad rule growing up. You had to be cleaned up and seated at the dinner table by 6:30 p.m. every evening, or you were grounded the next day. We lived on a chain of lakes, as did most of our friends, and had a ski boat we could take out alone from 8th grade on. We could dock up and get to a couple of downtown areas a block from the water, visit our friends, etc. without having to ride our bikes. But the boat was shared by 3 of us. If you were grounded, you could lose a boat day to a sibling. Horrors! Oh, and the t.v. was never ever on during dinner.

    I've been kind of lax on that with my son. Now in high school, he's eating lunch at 10:30 so he's starving when he gets home, and sometimes eats too much after school and isn't hungry when dinner's ready. And yeah, sometimes we eat in the living room and watch the news.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    95% of the time, we eat at the dinner table. It has become so routine that it is not even a chore anymore to round up the 4 kids and sit together.

    Both my wife and I grew up in eat at the dinner table households...despite the busy-ness of our families schedules.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    I gew up eating dinner with my family. My kids and I eat dinner together when they are home with me. The exception is when my daughter is at work, but the boys and I eat together, with the tv off.

    The payoff? My daughter insisted that she and I eat together before she goes to work.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Growing up, we'd usually eat at the coffee table in front of the TV. In summer, we would usually wait until 9pm to eat because of my dad's business and the fact that we would have to wait for him to come home (the old adage in landscaping is "Thank God for darkness!").

    This kind of troubled me a bit, as I knew other families ate around the kitchen table. Sometimes we would and I would value the conversations that would occur between my folks and me.

    So, now when my wife and I are planning our family, we decided that dinners will probably happen at the table, we may not do it now that often, but we will.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    When I was growing up we usually ate diiner together at the dinner table. No TV. Once in a while, as a big treat, we would eat in the living room, off of "TV trays" while watching TV. This happened especially on nights when my parents were going out somewhere. At times when my father's ship was at sea, the rest of us still ate together at the dinner table.

    Today there's just the two of us, and if we're both home we eat together in the dining room. I have evening meetings once or twice a week, and my wife has a drawing group every Tuesday night.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    family dinner at the table no tv. no leaving the table without being excused. it never was a big issue for us, it is just the way it was.

    BF and i do dinner together at the dinner table most nights unless one of us has a meeting or something. i enjoy our dinner time together.

    if we were ever to have children it is a tradition i'd like to continue.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    The house I grew up in (until about age 12) had a family room/dining area where we ate all our meals. The TV was at one end of it, and because we had B&W programming for most of that time, it was not on constantly. (On Saturday afternoons one of the 'rents would turn on The Met, and the lilting strains of Milton Cross' voice would accompany our making Appian Way pizza for lunch. "Sponsored by Texaco.")

    Seems like the room layout messed up several TV viewsheds, so it wasn't not feasible to eat and stare at the tube. (It's been almost 40 years; I would guess that the family room was maybe 10 x 12'.) And we ate dinner together every night, unless my brother had Little League. (Ancient history: in the 60's, only boys were allowed to play team sports. I couldn't even have a paper route...but since my brother needed help with his on Saturday, I was the de facto carrier.)

    When we moved to a much larger place in 1969, we still ate dinner together until High School happened and teenage activities started. I'm guessing we shared family values until each of us went off to college. (Another historical footnote: my mama had been a stay-at-home until my youngest brother's medical challenges ended. She returned to work at the hospital from which she'd been on a 17-year maternity leave. The extra income and her schedule meant that we started going out to eat at least once a week, still as a family...except for brother's HS basketball game nights.)

    Interestingly, the room layout meant that the dining table was in its own space, and the TV was some distance away in the adjacent great room. My table place was at the end with my back to the tube. Typically I would glance up from my plate to see five faces vacantly gazing past me. This meant that I would eat fast and getthehellout of the way...and I never developed much interest in TV programs. (Can name perhaps five that I ever cared to make time for.)

    So if you are thinking, "MY family will eat dinner together," consider the idiot box. You can all be together in the same room with that fifth wheel square-headed monster using up all the oxygen.

    My present family eats dinner together every night...they eat their food on the floor, and I sit on the couch with my NPR and newspaper while they enjoy the aromas.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    We ate together at a table in the kitchen. We had a dining room but that was reserved for special occasions when there were guests. The tv, when we finally got one, was in the living room and we never had meals there. We did consume massive amounts of buttered popcorn in front the tube though.

    In my own marriage(s), I continued the dining together as a family at the table, mostly without tv, tradition. Even if you don't have a lot of open conversation, you've got to teach your kids some table manners to use at some point in their lives. Chowing down in front of the tube doesn't get that done. Now that the wife and I are child-free, we eat most of our dinners in front of the tv but still maintain the dining at the table tradition for holiday meals even if the adult-kids aren't there with us. Candles and wine just seem to lose their ambience away from the table.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  11. #11
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    pwi

    we always ate dinner together growing up

    Now, we eat dinner still with our 3 kids every day - if I have a night meeting (which is anywhere between 1 and 3 nights a week), it's just my hubby and the kids - the only times we do not otherwise eat together is either

    a. it's time for the Jim Lehrer report on Friday nights and then Gwen is on so we kind split out

    or b.

    we have another big family for dinner, and we do the kids table gig - which I secretly love...

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
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    As a kid, we typically ate together, but dinner time could vary bay as much as an hour if it fit my RR conductor father. If he was at work or sleeping the rest of us ate together. Now eating together is mostly on weekends.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    - if I have a night meeting (which is anywhere between 1 and 3 nights a week),
    Good lord... this is why I left zoning/comp planning. I never saw my kid. Can you find a less stressful area of planning up there?

  14. #14
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Growing up, my family always ate at the table together. The only exception would be, later during the teen years, if someone had a sporting event or work or something like that, they would eat earlier before everyone else...but they would still usually eat at the table.

    Now, as my parents have become empty-nesters, it's hit-or-miss. Living at college, I usually end up eating in front of the computer or TV in my room during the week, however during the weekends and summer and winter breaks when I'm at home, I still eat at the table at home with my mom most of the time. My dad will usually eat in his room in front of the TV (since it hurts his back to sit at the table), but will occassionally come down and join us.

    My mom does all the cooking, although, in his better years, my dad cooked quite a bit as well, especially grilling. We get take-out about once or twice a week. Conversations around the table usually include the latest news stories/current events, how one's day or week went, and receiving updates on the relatives.

    Wheel of Fortune has also become a dinner-time ritual.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  15. #15
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    It is just the wife and I, and because I may have two or more night meetings every week, and she is an ER nurse who works overnights 7pm to 7am it is rare that we get to eat together, not to mention even see each other! Things will at least be getting better soon. The wife just accepted a day time job (9am to 9:30pm) three week days per week, plus on call. It will be nice because the sleep schedules will improve and she too will now have weekends off.

    Now if we could just coordinate our schedules so she would work on days that I have night meetings, we will be set!

    Other than the meetings/work issues, we always eat together.
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    More so than not we ate dinner together at the dinner table while growing up. In the Spring our baseball and soccer games somewhat interferred.


    Now we try to eat dinner together at the dinner table and teaching the little one table manners and have our "how was your day?" or "waht was your favorite part of the day?" conversations. Between late meetings and other activites, we probabaly eat together at least 4 nights a week.
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
    "Budweiser sells a product they reflectively insist on calling beer." John Oliver

  17. #17
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    We had a strict eat-at-the-table-with-everyone policy in my home growing up. It was annoying to me as a teen, but I appreciate it now looking back.

    My wife and I have carried this tradition on for about 90% of meals (we don't have kids yet). However, there are certain foods we prefer to have sitting on the couch, like pizza while watching a movie or a favorite show. Otherwise, the TV is off during about 75% of evening meals. It would be 100%, but it sometimes conflicts with the local news.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  18. #18
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Had a strict eat at the table with the family policy growing up and continue to practice it still. The one exception was when I was a student/bachelor - then of course I did not have a family...or a table. Comedienne Paula Poundstone once joked "I'd like to open a restaurant just for single people. There'd be no chairs and all the patrons would eat standing up in front of counters."

    There have been tons of studies which show that kids who eat at the dinner table on a regular basis have far lower rates of truancy, drug usage, early sexual activity. I guess that half hour each day is a good way to keep the proverbial finger on the family's pulse.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  19. #19
    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    There have been tons of studies which show that kids who eat at the dinner table on a regular basis have far lower rates of truancy, drug usage, early sexual activity.
    Didn't eat at the table or together anywhere else, for that matter.
    Somehow I missed the truancy thing, though.
    Je suis Charlie

  20. #20
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    When I was a kid my family always ate dinner together. The tradition continues with my own family. A recent development is that Saturday is Taco Night and my son and I make tacos together. It is fun. My son lovers assembling them.

    Eating with my son is not for the faint-of-heart. Despite daily reminders he still doesn't get the fact that it is a spoon, not a shovel.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  21. #21
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by otterpop View post
    Eating with my son is not for the faint-of-heart. Despite daily reminders he still doesn't get the fact that it is a spoon, not a shovel.
    Off-topic:
    At least he consistently uses silverware! (said the daddy of a two and half y.o.)
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  22. #22
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Off-topic:
    At least he consistently uses silverware! (said the daddy of a two and half y.o.)
    ...the sad news is that it doesn't get any better when they get older - having visited the high school cafeteria, I am witness to such atrocity

    so my 15 yo and my 3.5 yo both eat about the same in manners and my 9 yo eats like a Brit, knife and fork perfectly managed in hand, so go figure -

    and yes, ZG, it is a bad schedule I keep - but I am like a single-skilled, can't-do-much-else-but-this postal worker in these parts as there isn't another planner until the next county south of me so this is it - but I work hard at being happy here because I know I'm stuck and I feel no guilt about the spinning class I take twice a week that has me at a 2 hour lunch or leaving to go see a kid at a school event or anything of the same...

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    We ate dinner as a family when I was a kid (3 kids, I was the youngest.) As we got older and my sister went off to college, and my Mom got involved in a business that kept her at work until 9, it became smaller. Then my brother became a teenager and he was gone most nights. I do still have fond memories of my Dad and I eating together, but often in the kitchen. In both cases TV was a rare intruder but if dinner went late I would slip off to watch Doctor Who around 7:30...

    Now we try to eat together as a family (2 kids) as much as possible. Either I or my wife have night meetings 2-3 nights a week so often its not all of us. And its certainly less formal than it was when I was a kid. But we do all sit down around a dining room table 3-4 nights a week and eat what we've managed to scratch together between the end of work and dinner time. TV is not part of the plan - generally I am pleasantly surpised that my son doesn't ask for TV much other than weekend mornings, anyway.

    I read somewhere that eating dinner together somehow significantly helps kids in school. I generally believe it although it is hard to arrange a family dinner.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Off-topic:
    At least he consistently uses silverware! (said the daddy of a two and half y.o.)
    I should have been more clear. My son uses his spoon like a shovel. WHEN he actually uses it and not his hands. He is six and a half! I sit next to him so I don't have to watch!

    At least when we had Christmas dinner with my family, my son behaved himself.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  25. #25
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    We very rarely ate together at the table, when I was growing up. I'd say from about the time I was 8 or 9 years old, we all pretty much fended for ourselves when it came to eating... so I'd eat a lot of soup, frozen dinners and oatmeal, stuff like that. And we ate out a lot. Even though my mom was a stay-at-home mom, she was sick a lot of the time, and only occassionally would she whip up a family meal.

    Now, with my own family, we do all eat the same thing, together at the table, for the most part. Except now my husband is on the South Beach diet and I'm eating whatever the heck sounds good, and my daughter usually isn't interested in what we are eating cause it is too spicy or whatever, so sometimes she has nothing more than a banana and an oatmeal bar for supper. But, we still all sit together at the table... with TV on.

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