Is the Family Meal Worth the Work?
It is becoming common knowledge that the family meal is correlated with all kinds of ridiculously good things in child development. Here is a useful review of the research by the Washington Post, research that informs my foundational recommendations to parents who are frazzled by mealtime struggles. To claim all the good of this family tradition and to minimize the stress, you need two basic guidelines. One, provide healthy food and let children choose portions without any coercion to finish what they put on their plate. Second, since you have freed yourself from the power struggles of trying to get children to eat, you can now focus on maintaining a positive social atmosphere. Basic manners and pleasant conversation are the goals. See John Petersen’s previous post on this for parents’ of preschoolers.