Family dinner: How much time should you spend at the table?

Published: Thursday, Sept. 19 2013 4:23 p.m. MDT

"I had a guy come build a frame around this map so we could have it right there by where we eat … which often helps us talk about different things going on in the world over dinner (that is, when there isn't a food fight or crying going on about how the kids don't like what I made for dinner … or Lucy throwing a fit under the table)," Shawni Pothier wrote on her blog 71 Toes.

"Dave and I want so much for our kids to be aware of the world and to instill in them a love of traveling and exploring it like we have," she said.

Others shared ideas with the Wall Street Journal such as each child discussing their highs and lows of the day, while some families with little kids stay at the table longer by serving food in multiple courses.

Several organizations have started promoting and encouraging family dinnertime, such as Positive Parenting Solution's family dinner challenge and the also offers conversation topics in the form of a daily suggested article, listed on the site as "Dinner Table Conversations." Questions related to the article are provided to prompt discussions among parents and their kids. Ultimately, each group provides ideas and encouragement for all families at the dinner table.

"What matters is that the parents are paying attention, sitting down and looking at their child and not just exchanging a text message," clinical psychologist Marlene Schwartz said.


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