The Reckoner!

Just How Important Is Family Dinner Anyway?

The situation is a little more complicated then I am making it sound. Ordinarily, I like sitting down to eat as a family, but we're having some trouble scheduling it. 

Here's the backstory:

I have a family of 5. There's me and my wife, my teen step-daughters and our 4 year old son.

Until recently, we were able to make a time for dinner, around 6pm, where we would all eat together. Then things at my office got hectic, and I've rarely been able to make it home before 7 instead of my old 5:30. I'm not sure how long this will last, could be for awhile. 

Meanwhile, our oldest now has her driver's license and she and her sister have activities pretty much around the clock, then they have homework. Their schedules vary by day, making it difficult to plan a consistent dinner time. We could insist that they make an effort to be home at a certain time for dinner unless absolutely impossible, but we haven't done this yet. We don't want to stifle their social, althetic, or academic lives 

Our 4 year old just can't wait until 7.30 for dinner. His bedtime is at 8.30 right now, and even waiting until 6.30 has been a stretch. We could give him a snack to tide him over, but I'm worried that later dinner will push everything later for him--playtime, dessert, bath, story time, bed.

My wife feels very strongly that we should do all kinds of contortion acts to get our schedules to align--even if this means we eat at a different time every night. She likes to have the whole family around the table. I like this too, but I think right now, our best bet is to keep dinner time at about 6:30 and those who aren't there can get their own dinner when they get home. Hopefully we'll still have some nights (like Sundays) where the whole family is together, and those will be special. 

In case it's important: my wife does most of the cooking, I do most of the cleaning up. Part of eating at different times would probably mean leaving plates/leftovers for the later eaters. 


TL;DR: My wife wants us all to have dinner together as a family, which is very difficult with 5 people's full schedules. I think we should prioritize the activities/needs of the family members and forego the emphasis on family dinner until our schedules settle down. Which of us is right?

Reckoning Results!
Wife is Right!
Husband is Right!
Dinner together!
Dinner when we can!
Previous Reckoning!
Do You Drink Beer With Pasta?
Next Reckoning!
Should I Introduce Her To My Family?

Reckoning Comments!

I really feel that families should do all that they can to eat together. It's good bonding time. HOWEVER, sometimes like this particular situation, it is almost impossible without reaking havoc on the whole family dynamic. Do what you can to make it happen, and accept the fact that it's not always going to be possible.

This one is as tough as nails.  What I suspect is that if you try to get everyone home for dinner at once every night, everyone will be so exhausted and stressed out from trying to make it that you'll be doing more harm than good for the family dynamic.

Do the 6:30 dinner, and keep that tupperware ready!

It is nice to have family dinners but if everyone is so stressed out about them it kind of defeats the purpose. Plan for one or two per week instead and make them count.

Even when I had 11 kids living in my house, dinner was ALWAYS together, the only thing that would excuse you from sitting down together was a job, any extracurrical activities were allowed, as long as they didn't interfere with dinner. Of course dinner at our house has always been around 7:30, but we have had times when we needed to be flexible. Weekly schedules were posted on the fridge, with who was cooking and who was cleaning up, and work schedules when available.

Sitting down together every night has been great, and the kids don't have any problem with it since that is how they were raised. 

Also, Any friends of the kids that were visiting were required to sit with us, even if they chose not to eat (99% of them did eat - teenagers don't turn down free food)

The Reckoner!