Commonwealth National Podcast

Why Family Dinners Matter: How Every Concern Crosses Your Dinner Plate

Duration: 
1:01:21

Why Family Dinners Matter: How Every Concern Crosses Your Dinner Plate

 

Laurie David, Producer, An Inconvenient Truth; Author, The Family Dinner
Greg Dalton, Founder of Climate One


We are at risk of losing a cherished and nourishing tradition, the family dinner, says author and activist Laurie David. Producer of An Inconvenient Truth and author of the just-released The Family Dinner, David says a host of pressures and dangers threaten the family dinner. The culprits are familiar: long commutes; TV, phones, and video games; more women in the workforce; school events and extra-curricular activities scheduled during dinnertime; and the microwave. Despite the challenges, David says family dinner must again become routine, for the good of our children and our environment. “Family dinner can help tremendously with three of the biggest problems we face today: our national health crisis, our difficulty connecting with each other through the fog of technology, and our urgent need to take better care of our environment,” David says. Home-cooked meals are not only better for us, she says, but by gathering the family around one table, they create memories, and help kids develop self-esteem, resiliency, patience, listening skills, vocabulary, and empathy. “Our grandparents knew it, and most of our parents, too, that frequent family dinner can help protect kids from everything a parent worries about – from drugs to alcohol to poor self-esteem, low school grades, and poor nutrition,” she says. David admits it’s not easy to goad kids into leaving their computers or TVs for a sit-down meal at home. But, during the conversation with Climate One founder Greg Dalton and audience Q&A, David offers some helpful tips. One: get kids involved in the cooking. Another: prepare what David calls “participation food” – meals, such as soups, that kids can add to by tossing in ingredients at the dinner table. “We should think of family dinner as the most important activity our kids and our family can do,” David says. “It’s a nightly dress rehearsal for adulthood, a safe, dependable place to practice cooperation, patience, and manners, kindness and gratitude, and share stories.”

This program was recorded in front of a live audience at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on November 3, 2010

Published in: