top of page

Why I Refuse to Eat Dinner as a Family

This post originally appeared in Kveller.

Six o’clock was dinnertime in my suburban Wisconsin home in the 1970s and ‘80s. My working mother, a socialist ahead of her time, made sure that we all participated in a collaborative menu-making session every other Sunday so that the collective decisions were reached by majority vote and therefore less likely to be boycotted or spur a mutiny. It was always completed two weeks in advance, and posted on the fridge.

The rule was: the first one to arrive home was responsible for cooking the family meal, since she had ensured that all ingredients were already in the house. Thus I knew how to cut up a whole chicken, season it, and throw it in the oven by 4:30. I also knew to involve myself in a bazillion after-school activities–enough to avoid the responsibility, placing it squarely on my sister’s less intrinsically manipulative shoulders. I am the typical youngest child.

The wisdom of the day–and in fact, the wisdom of today–strongly espouses the distinct and varied advantages of a consistent family dinner, including lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression as well as higher grade-point averages and self-esteem. For the children.

But what about the parents?

Dinner with my 9, 6, and 4-year-old sucks even though I have made a concerted effort to teach table manners in a country where I might be the only one to have ever bothered with such a thing. Dinner still sounds like this:

Cut my meat.

I need more milk.

*Milk spills*

He took the last roll.

I didn’t want pasta.

No toys at the table.

Finish your chicken before I’ll give you more rice.

My foods are touching each other.

How many bites before dessert?

I am half waitress and half dictator. Which I get, because I had three kids in five years, and they have to eat, every damn day, and I have to cook non-processed, homemade meals for them, every day. Yep, I signed up for that and I’ll do it. I get the value and the importance.

But I’ll be goddamned if I’m going to sit and eat with them.

Read the rest of this post on Kveller.

Recent Posts
bottom of page