Why Family Dinners are Important + Printable Conversation Starters

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Families are busier than ever, but making mealtime a priority in your home is so important! Today I’m sharing four reasons why family dinners are important and tips for finding time to sit around the table together. Plus, I’m also sharing 50 Family Mealtime Conversation Starters that you can print!

Why Family Dinners are Important @ AVirtuousWoman.org

30 Days Of Intentional Homemaking: Day 19

Families need women who make home a special place to live, learn, and grow. There is no other job that presents as many opportunities for shaping (for the good or the bad) the future of our country – of our world – than that of a homemaker.

Intentional Homemaking @ AVirtuousWoman.org

Each of us is a homemaker. Whether you work outside the home or stay home full time, you are a homemaker. Whether you live with a big boisterous family or it’s just you and a couple of children – or just you and your husband – or even just you -, you are a homemaker. We’ve all been called to the ministry of homemaking.

You can find the rest of this series here.

➡️ Get today’s workbook here.

If your family is like most American families, finding time for family dinners on a regular basis is a challenge. As children get older and your days are filled with more activities, finding time to sit together around the table isn’t easy, but it’s super important!

Three of my five kids are grown and either married or in college. I have two teens still at home and I can tell you, the time goes by so fast!

I honestly wish we had spent more time around the table than we did, but I have wonderful memories of family dinners and good food around the table. Those memories are priceless!

When my kids were younger, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen preparing meals and I’m so glad I took the time to do that.

The last couple of years have been tougher to find that time, but we eat most of our meals together – whatever that looks like and it’s not always around the table, but it’s almost always together where we talk, laugh, and communicate.

My kids are growing up so fast! Between music lessons, ice skating lessons, homeschooling our weeks are filled to the brim with things to do.

The one constant in every single day is that we have to eat. And since we have to eat, I want to eat good food. Like every day.

I want my kids to remember eating good food at home. And I want them to cherish memories of us sitting at the table together enjoying a delicious meal and fellowship together.

Weeknight Family Dinners @ AVirtuousWoman.org

Unfortunately, for the average American family, meals are often eaten alone or in the car. Studies have shown that for the average American, one in every five meals is eaten in the car, at least one fast food meal is eaten every day, and families eat dinner together less than once a week.

Why Family Dinners are Important

1. When families eat together, kids tend to eat more fruits and vegetables. Families who eat dinner together are more likely to eat healthier and to encourage their children to make good food choices. This also means your kids will be less likely to be overweight.

However, if the television is on during dinner, kids are more likely to be overweight at a younger age. So turn off the television and spend time talking.

Obesity in children has become a real issue as nearly 1 in 5 adolescents are overweight which puts them at great risk for health issues later in life.

2. Families who eat together are more likely to engage with one another and talk to each other. Sadly, many families today are disconnected from each other. It’s not uncommon for everyone to stay in their own space inside their homes today.

Kids spend so much time on their electronic devices and unfortunately mom and dad are guilty of doing the same! Instead of talking face to face and having meaningful conversations, family communication is reduced to impersonal interactions.

I would strongly encourage you to turn off the television and insist everyone put away their electronic devices during family mealtimes. It may be a challenge – especially at first – but it’s okay to insist and your kids will eventually understand that family time is important.

Memories are made easier when family members are not distracted. So many families are experiencing a disconnect from each other because of their connection to the online world. Mealtimes should be sacred family time. Guard that time by setting boundaries and simple rules. Sit together at the table.

The number one thing you can do to strengthen your relationship with your kids is to talk to them! Kids grow up so fast and taking time during the week to sit together around a table and share a family dinner is one of the best ways you can show your kids they are important.

Connecting around meal means that your kids will be more likely to share any problems they are struggling with and they are less likely to struggle with depression.

related: The House of Their Dreams by Casting Crowns – watch on YouTube or find it on Amazon.

3. When families eat dinner together, kids are less like to get involved in substance abuse. They are less likely to experiment with cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol.

Regular family dinners have a positive impact on their values, motivation, and self-esteem.  Research shows that children who eat dinner with their family are more likely to understand and follow the boundaries and expectations their parents set.

Children who have a sense of belonging within the family unit are less likely to experience depression or have suicidal thoughts. They are more likely to believe that they have a support system when life is tough.

The dinner table gives us a sense of community and belonging within the family – and that’s important. Studies have shown that kids are more resilient in the face of bullying or other stressors when they eat meals with their families.

Cyberbullying relates to mental health and substance use problems in adolescents, even after their involvement in face-to-face bullying is taken into account. Although correlational, these results suggest that family dinners (ie, family contact and communication) are beneficial to adolescent mental health and may help protect adolescents from the harmful consequences of cyberbullying. – source

Enjoy good conversation. Keep the conversation lighthearted and uplifting. Dinner time isn’t the time to talk about stressful things. Don’t use the time to reprimand your children or bring up tense subjects. Your family might even enjoy using a family devotion or discussion starter to get meaningful conversation going!

Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred.” Proverbs 15:17

4. Another reason why family dinners are important is that kids are more likely to get better grades in school. Families who are connected are more likely to hold their kids accountable.

And more than just eating happens around the family dinner table.

  • Dinner time conversation boosts children’s vocabulary and they learn more rare words than children who don’t eat with their families around the table.
  • Family mealtimes almost guarantee better grades – even more than sports, music lessons, doing homework, or other activities.
  • Children who eat with their families five to seven times a week are twice as likely to get A’s on their report cards than children who eat with their families less than two times a week.

How to Find Time for Family Dinners

Some days are really busy and it can be hard to find time to prepare a delicious meal that pleases the whole family.

Keep it simple. Mealtime doesn’t have to be difficult to pull together to be memorable. There are days when I feed my family on paper plates. Not everyday but it does happen.And just because we sit at the table together doesn’t mean I have to “set the table.”

Most of the time I call my family to come eat and they fix their plates in the kitchen and bring them into the dining room {or our dining area in the family room} to eat.

Simple also means that sometimes I serve my family prepared foods. Yes, cooking a homemade meal from scratch is wonderful. But homemade doesn’t have to mean complicated.

And sometimes letting the grocery store help you get a healthy meal on the table is okay.

related: My Go-To Meals for Busy Days

You see, it’s not the amount of time you spend cooking the perfect recipe or the flair with which you set the table. It’s your smile along with comforting food that will mean the most to your family. Family is what it’s really all about. 

How to Make Family Dinners Fun

All of these benefits of family dinners only apply if the atmosphere around the table is warm, inviting, and engaging. Family meal times should be a time for laughter, good conversation, and catching up on the day.

Family meal time should be about sharing laughter and good food with people you love.

Mealtimes are an important part of family life. As a parent you need to be aware of how you are interacting with your children around the table and made sure that it’s an enjoyable experience.

Family dinners are not the time for reprimanding your kids, have tense discussions, or controlling your kids behavior. Yelling at your kids or your spouse during meal time is a sure fire way to make all of these great benefits null and void.

related: 50 Family Dinner Conversation Starters to Print

It’s important to make meal time fun and meaningful because that’s where the real connection happens. Making family dinners fun isn’t always easy – especially if your kids are younger or if you have really picky eaters or children who cry at the table a lot.

Just remember, kids don’t stay little forever and the while the days are long, the years are short. So keep working to make family dinner in your home something special, because one day those kids will grow up and hopefully they’ll look back at those moments around the table with fondness.

A few ideas for making family dinner more fun:

  • plan themed dinner nights 
  • serve at least one dish your children love
  • keep food simple most night
  • have a conversation jar with questions to ask during meal time
50 Family Dinner Conversation Starters to Print @ AVirtuousWoman.org
50 Family Dinner Conversation Starters to Print @ AVirtuousWoman.org

50 Family Mealtime Conversation Starters

Dinnertime is the perfect time to catch up with your family from the day.  With work, school and all of the other activities that keep you busy, it can be only time they have quality time together some days.  

50 Family Dinner Conversation Starters @ AVirtuousWoman.org

You may find, though, that your family doesn’t have much to say at the dinner table. A lot of “Um’s” and “Uh-huh’s”. The key is to ask open-ended questions that require more than a yes or no to answer.

This list of conversation starters should help you get the ball rolling!  

  1. How did you help another person today?
  2. If you could trade places with your parents for a day, what would you do differently?
  3. If you could have one dream come true, what would it be?
  4. If you could pick your own name, what would you choose?
  5. If you could be animal, what would you be and why?
  6. Which book character best describes you and why?
  7. If you could see your future, where will you be in ten years?
  8. If you could be famous for a week, what would you be famous for and why?
  9. If you could have any pet, what would you choose and why?
  10. What is your favorite vacation memory?
  11. How would you describe yourself in three words?
  12. If the house was on fire and you could only grab three things, what would they be?
  13. If you could travel back in time, where would you go?
  14. What is something you want to learn how to do and why?
  15. What would you do if you were a king or a queen?
  16. If you were invisible for a day, what would you want to observe?
  17. If you had the attention of the world for just 10 seconds, what would you say?
  18. What are the qualities that make you a good friend?
  19. What is the nicest thing a friend has ever done for you?
  20. What is your favorite movie and why?
  21. What is your favorite family tradition?
  22. What sport do you enjoy playing the most?
  23. Where would you like to go on our next family vacation and why?
  24. What is one thing you wish you had done better today?
  25. Who is one person in your life you are thankful for and why?
  26. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever eaten?
  27. What is your earliest memory?
  28. What is your most embarrassing moment?
  29. What is your least favorite chore?
  30. What was the best part of your day?
  31. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
  32. If you could spend a day with any famous person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
  33. If you could have any superpower, which would you choose?
  34. If you had one wish, what would you wish for and why?
  35. If you could eat just one food every single day for a month and nothing else, what would it be?
  36. What are you most scared of?
  37. If you could only eat three foods the rest of your life, what would they be?
  38. If you could have dinner with anyone (past or present), who would it be and why?
  39. If you could stay up all night, what would you do?
  40. What is the most beautiful place you have ever seen?
  41. What is one thing you couldn’t live without?
  42. Who is your best friend and why?
  43. If you had to live in another country, which one would you choose?
  44. What is your greatest talent?
  45. If you could play any instrument, what would it be and why?
  46. What is your favorite holiday and why?
  47. What is one thing you are grateful for today?
  48. What is your favorite book and why?
  49. What has been the happiest day of your life so far and why?
  50. What do you want to be when you grow up and why?

Printable Family Mealtime Conversation Starters

50 Family Dinner Conversation Starters @ AVirtuousWoman.org

You can purchase my printable Family Dinner Conversation Starters here. I hope you enjoy them!

Why Family Dinners are Important + 50 Family Dinner Conversation Starters @ AVirtuousWoman.org

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  1. Great suggestions, Melissa. We eat as a complete family for 2-3 of our meals each day and you're right, it is a real blessing. We love fun conversation starters and have found the 'Ungame' offers some perfect starters very similar to yours. It's also a great opportunity to allow families who homeschool the opportunity to see each person not as a student or a teacher but as a family member. This can be a great relief as a mum. I appreciate your reminder not to reprimand at the table. I need to work on this one
    1. Ungame sounds like fun! Thanks for sharing! Also, Leah we were out of town for a while, but your cookbook was here when I got home this week. Looking forward to looking through it in the coming days and getting a post up! :)

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