Gather Around the Table

Caroline O'Brien, Staff

A student gets home from a long day at school, eats a snack, finishes their homework, and is ready to eat dinner. Instead of having a sit-down dinner with their family, they sit alone because their parents are busy with work, and their siblings already ate. This student does not see the dinner table as a comforting place to talk about their day, they don’t see it as a place to catch up on how their family members have been feeling the past week; instead, they see it as a place to eat, unaccompanied by anyone who cares about them. 

The dinner table should not appear as this student sees it, but as a place to bond with the people they love. Every day, family dinners are becoming less and less of a priority in people’s lives, and this decrease correlates with consequences relating to mental health and family dynamics.

Research conducted by Dr. Anne K. Fishel concluded that the benefits of family dinners for teens include: a greater sense of resilience, lower risk of substance abuse, lower risk of teen pregnancy, lower risk of depression, lower likelihood of developing eating disorders, lower rates of obesity, and better cardiovascular health. Dr. Fishel’s research also showed that the advantages for adults are: better nutrition, less dieting, increased self-esteem, and a lower risk of depression.

However, to gain any of these benefits, according to Dr. Fishel, the dinner table has to be a warm and welcoming place. Although conversations may not always be positive, it is essential to be open to listening and discussing different topics that someone may bring up. 

Some B-CC students agree. Junior Claire Campbell has family dinners almost daily, and although they aren’t an hour long, she still appreciates the moments and discussions that occur. “I know my family wouldn’t judge me, and they give unbiased input,” said Campbell when describing her family’s response to her problems or when she asks for advice.

Similarly, senior Isabelle Chauny has family dinners most days of the week. She explained that she discusses her daily activities during these dinners, cherishing the hour-and-a-half of time her family shares each day after long hours at work and school. “I feel like, in a way, [family dinners] create connections and increase bonding, whereas when you have separate dinners, it’s kind of a disconnect,” said Chauny.

Conversely, another junior, Grayson Barrow, claims that she rarely has family dinners because of how busy her family is. “I would like to have [family dinners] more often, a few times a week maybe,” said Barrow, adding, “This time together could give me a chance to get closer with everyone.”

Balancing studying, sports, and extracurricular activities can make it challenging to prioritize daily family dinners. However, placing family dinners at the forefront of your priorities is crucial. Devoting just an hour to dining with your family can foster stronger relationships, reduce insecurities, and enhance overall happiness.