What is the allure about the family dinner anyway?

Frankly, the family dinner is the most challenging, frustrating part of my day. I don’t understand why everyone is all proactive about keeping the family together for dinner. Family dinners stress me out.

I’m talking about the regular, intimate, nuclear family dinners, the daily ones, not the extended-family-holiday dinners.

Is it me? Is it my family? Is it my parenting? Because frankly, I could do without the chaos, the noise, the mess. I could certainly do without the attitudes and the never-ending bickering, and the incessant complaining about the food I present.

Maybe the solution is for me to remove myself from the table. Eat someplace else where I can actually enjoy the home-cooked meal I made with ample thought, love and preparation. I could sit with my new magazine, or with the blackberry, and read while sipping wine and tasting the food I consume.

Instead, I have to listen to complaints about how they don’t like this or that. I have to hear how HE did this and SHE did that. I have to watch them get up and walk here, jump there, hang over something,, and twist and turn in their seats until something spills or drops on the floor.

This is not conducive to my digestion.

I have to endure interruptions when I attempt to ask how someone’s day was (and give up completely having any type of civilized conversation with DH. What’s the point? They’re completely self-absorbed in their own dramas and have no interest in what he, or I, have to say about OUR days).

Still, we eat at the table as a family most nights. Even on activity nights, even if DH is late, there are are least the kids and I that sit down at a properly set table and attempt to have a somewhat civilized meal together.

Every night I try and apply certain methods to keep this habit of having a family dinner.

Every night there is at least once child with an attitude problem of sorts.

Every night there’s at least one kid who complains about the food I make for them.

Every night there is excessive noise.

Every night I pour just a little more wine than I should.

Every night…

One of the parents Ben had a playdate with not long ago mentioned that dinner is a fiasco at her house too. She gave examples that resonate with me. Partly, this makes me feel less like a loser. Partly, this makes me feel like there is something wrong with all of us parents….

Mostly I just want to have one pleasant meal with my family.

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9 thoughts on “What is the allure about the family dinner anyway?

  1. My my, you DO freak me out with the way our lives parallel. Dinnertime at our house is identical, and identically frustrating. GAH. Even when I make a crowd pleaser like pizza or chicken nuggets, there’s sure to be whining from someone who doesn’t like it. No one seems able to stay in their seat for any length of time, everyone always wants to know exactly how many bites they need to take to have a treat, and no one remembers how to use a napkin around here.

    I try to keep it up – some days I’m just too tired, and we all eat together but with the TV on. Most days, though, I still try – I ask everyone to tell me about their day, I prompt them to say nice things about each other. I like to think there will be a payoff one day…do you think there will be?

    • Argh. Well, it is sort of nice to know I’m not the only one who will end up in the looney bin because of family dinners. :)

  2. I hate family dinners. And I actually have, a few times, left the table with my plate and gone to eat somewhere else because it was all so annoying. You’re so not alone.

    • And I so did that. It was sort of uncomfortable eating at the edge of my bed, and I spilled the last of the white wine (but I had red left so boo to them) but it was preferable to eating by myself in a puddle of wine than to eat with THEM.

      sigh

  3. I’m so very sorry to read about your difficult family dinner. I’m sure you get 1,000 thoughts and opinions on the subject, so I don’t mean to be a pest…but may I offer one more? Have you tried taking a break from the family dinner? Maybe there is too much pressure..and everyone can feel it?
    Please hang in there! It’ll get better!!

  4. Some days, that is exactly what we do. Either we adults take a break and feed the kids earlier so we can sit and enjoy our meal without them, or we forgo the entire ordeal. To be fair, there are some nights that are actually not too bad….like many things in this parenting journey, there are no easy answers. Thank you for the thought, though, I appreciate it. And I’m sure at some point, I will post an update. Kids to grow and mature, eventually…:)

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  7. Omg I love reading this and the comments! Makes me feel so much better. I just don’t understand how my parents pulled it off – we ate in the dining room EVERY NIGHT, cloth napkins, three courses, three kids, no major incidents. Were they drugging us? We are a busy house this year, I think I might just select a few days to sit down together – maybe it will be a novelty that brings good behaviour. Maybe?
    I literally ran away from home one night last summer – I ran to a local greenhouse and looked at flowers for an hour.

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