During the first years of my parenting adventure, we always ate dinner at the table as a family. Unfortunately, I recently realized that we rarely sit down and eat a full meal together. My children are now in school and participate in extracurricular activities, and my husband travels almost weekly. We either rush through dinner or eat at staggered times throughout the evening. I know our habits are not uncommon. Drive-thru windows and microwaves are a staple in many homes, and the family table has lost its prominent place in our culture.
Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott experience the same evening rush as the rest of us. For a while, Leslie served as a short-order cook in her own kitchen as she prepared separate items for different family members before shuttling them to various activities (sound familiar?). As a psychologist and family therapist, however, their research (and the research of countless others) has shown that families that share a dinnertime ritual with each other reap the rewards. In The Hour that Matters Most: The Surprising Power of the Family Meal the Parrotts discuss the secrets of a happy home and explain why the family meal plays such an important role.
While the research encourages us to gather around the table, the question exists: How will I do it? After establishing the need for the family meal, the Parrotts include informative chapters on food preparation, talking with your family, listening to your children, curbing conflict, enjoying laughter, and other topics. The Parrotts also include recipes and advice from Stephanie Allen and Tina Kuna, two leaders in the meal-assembly industry. This book is a practical and useful tool to help jump start a meaningful tradition. I especially appreciated the assurance that not every dinner hour is magic. Food may be burned, kids may be cranky, and parents may be impatient, but the Parrotts encourage persistence. Over time, family meals create stability and meaningful relationships between parents and their children. The Parrotts assure us that time together at the dinner table softens hearts, builds connections, engenders laughter, and cultivates caring.
According to the Parrotts, “Countless studies have shown that if parents could take only one proactive and practical step to engender family commitment, appreciation, affection, positive communication, time together, and all the rest, it would be to establish a regular dinnertime around a common table without distraction. One hour a few times a week. That’s it.” I’m a realist, and I know we will not be able to have a family meal every night. But thanks to the information and ideas in The Hour that Matters Most, I am committed to bringing my family back to the table. I am sure I am not the only reader to be facing this challenge, and I encourage you to pick up a copy of this book. Our families are worth it!
5 Minutes for Mom has 12 copies to give away!
I’d love to hear your thoughts here on my review, but to enter to win a copy, you need to visit the main post at 5 Minutes for Mom and leave a comment over there. The giveaway closes October 13.
Lauren is a wife, mother-of-two, and an avid reader. She blogs at Baseballs and Bows.