Get to Know the Kids Around the Dinner Table
May 1, 2012
Get to Know the Kids Around the Dinner Table

Dear Dr. Laura,

Recently you talked about the importance of family dinners to children.  When our oldest daughter (now 30) was a senior in high school, her teacher asked the class what they would miss most going off to college. She said it would be eating dinner every night with her family. Her teacher was astonished and asked the class how many ate dinner with their family. Very few did! When we saw the teacher soon after, he questioned my husband and me if this was true and we assured him it was!

In 2006, our family was profiled in the newspaper as a family who eats dinner together. Why this is newsworthy still amazes me. They came and photographed us, like we were animals in a zoo! Our 4 children, including a set of triplets, thought it was very odd that eating dinner together should be considered interesting as it was all they had ever known.

Over the years we have had many other children at our dinner table. They came from families who ate "on the run" and were often left to fend for themselves while their parents attended various social events. I never thought they were with us for the food, but rather the camaraderie and love that was around the table.

I know those dinners did a lot to cement our family. On days when it was going to be difficult to manage due to everyone's schedule, we ate breakfast together instead, but it was a rare day when we didn't share that time around the table together in some fashion. When someone achieved something noteworthy, they had their dinner on the "Red Plate" emblazed with the words "You are Special today". Dinner was fun! We teased each other, laughed and heard all about the activities or trials of the day. I believe this is why, even now, as empty-nesters, with kids scattered around the country, they still are so close to us and each other.  And when we are together, sharing meals is still a major focus.

Incidentally, you are also right about how the children turn out. Our 2 boys are Eagle Scouts, all 4 were class officers or leaders, were good athletes and graduated from college in 4 years. That time around the dinner table was the best time of our parenting and it didn't matter whether it was grilled salmon or grilled cheese. It was just being together.

Thanks for bringing this issue to your listeners. I hope you inspired some to make the effort to get to know their kids around the dinner table. It's worth the effort!

Mary Anne

And later in the show we received: 

Hi Dr. Laura,

I was just listening to your letter about family dinners and the writer mentioned the red plate. Our family too, has the red plate and I have included the link below.

We use the red plate for everything from birthdays, to a great grade, to "just because." It is always a thrill to the one whose place at the table has the "red plate!" Just wanted other listeners to have access to their own red plates if they would like!

Thank you for all you do!



Posted by Staff at 3:36 PM