Town Square

Strengthening family ties

Original post made on Jul 29, 2007

Laurie Hunter, her husband and her 15-year-old son, Philip MacQuitty, eat dinner together about five times a week. But MacQuitty, a sophomore at Palo Alto High School, wishes family dinners were, well, more interesting.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, July 11, 2007, 12:00 AM


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 29, 2007 at 7:19 pm

This is something I have tried to practice ever since I had kids. When my kids were still fairly young, it was pretty easy. As they got older and busier, it became much harder. Now that summer is here I am really trying to get back into the habit (this article fired me up) and I do and have recommended the practice to others over the years.

I will make a couple of comments of my own. Sports in particular makes this habit difficult. When one child is involved in sport and gets home late because of a practice and another is doing a different activity and has to leave the house before dinnertime, family time goes by the board. It is therefore still important to do it when you can, maybe at weekends or just one weeknight a week. But keep the practice up. Use this time to talk about family stuff that needs to be said, planning family events or passing on family news.

It still works in my family but it is much more of an effort than it used to be. Good luck.

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Posted by Al
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 29, 2007 at 10:05 pm

I'm an old guy with grandkids. When I was a kid, we had dinner every night at the family table. It was boring. Yes, we talked, but it was a fake talk. My mother thought she was doing the right thing. My father went along for the ride, just to keep Mom happy.

When I raised my kids, I did not want family dinner time. My wife and I decided that food and conncection are not, necessarily, the same thing. We talked with our kids, as the need and opportunity presented itself. Food was a separate issue, delivered as needed, except on special holidays, like Thanksgiving.

Our kids learned to cook for themselves, and they are all very good cooks. Sometimes, we would cook a gourmet dinner together, each bringing his/her own recipe. In general though, we did not focus on food and family table.

We are close with our kids, but not too close. They are independent, and out of the house at age 18, no exceptions. When we do get together with our kids and grandkids, it is fun to see who can cook up the best gourmet dish. We usually finish the evening with watermelon, so it is not a big deal...just a lot of fun.

I would say, having experienced both ends of the family table experience, don't push it.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Jul 30, 2007 at 10:39 am


Thanks for your thoughts. I am pleased that your family does get on so well. Unfortunately, things have changed quite a bit since even your kids were home. Many of the kids nowadays live on food that is not home cooked. The most they know about cooking is how to heat up pizza or mac and cheese. The only gourmet meals they know come from the local chinese (or ?) takeout. Families only get together and talk when there is a problem. Table manners are non-existent and meal times are vague to say the least.

I try to get my family to eat together as it is often the only way they talk to each other. I can find time to talk to each of my kids, but unless they are sitting at the table talking to each other, they never have the opportunity to compare their thoughts about the same teachers, the comparisons about various school lunch items, etc.

It is not for parent/child interaction, but often for sibling interaction that makes this necessary. Kids today spend too much time in front of a computer or with music in their headphones, for them to interact. If a family can do the same thing in a different way then I am all for it. Eating together seems like a good way to me.

On a similar note, I am disgusted by the amount of food crumbs and stains I find in library books I borrow. It says that people are eating when reading and that is fine if they own the book, but pretty bad when they are turning these stained books back to the libraries.

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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 30, 2007 at 4:30 pm

Wow, I guess I'm on the old-fashioned side on this one. Dinner time's etiquette time. It's prime time for civilizing the little critters.