Traverse City Record-Eagle

Evelyn Petersen: Ask Evelyn

October 29, 2011

Ask Evelyn: Family meals about more than food

Q: When my grandkids come over they used to have a habit of just opening the refrigerator and looking for something to eat without asking. I told them we don't do this at our house.

I expect good manners and give praise and works. I don't respond to "I want ..." Instead, I say, "I can give you ... when you ask me in the right way. Say 'May I please have ...' "

Their behavior changed in just a few days!

Holidays are coming soon and we'll have many meals with friends and relatives.

Please urge parents to make a resolution to eat together as a family and have their kids use good manners at meals, both at home and at the homes of others. -- Concerned Grandma

A: I agree with you on the current state of family meals and table manners.

Most of our adult children did use good manners at meals when they were growing up. I feel that the reason this was not "passed on" is that today's families seldom eat a family meal together, except during the holidays.

They have forgotten that eating together and conversing is one of the main ways parents pass on their personal and family values to their children.

The family meal is also the main venue for modeling appropriate manners.

Today many families don't have daily conversations together at a meal; instead everyone grazes and gets something to eat on their own.

Studies on family meals and their effects on children, however, show us something very important.

Children who eat regular meals with their parents, and converse with them about their day, their interests and their opinions are children who have better self-esteem, fewer problems in school, and who are less likely to engage in substance abuse.

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