I grew up in a family that had dinner together almost every evening. My mom is admittedly neither an enthusiastic or an accomplished cook, but night after night, she’d make a pot roast, meatloaf, or the house specialty (breakfast for dinner) and gather us around a table, where, depending on how old my brother and I were, we’d either scarf down our food and beg to be dismissed or linger to discuss our day and soak in a few uninterrupted moments of family time.
The only phone was our landline, and if it rang, my father would answer and immediately tell whomever was on the other end that they’d have to call back because we were in the middle of dinner. Although we could see the television from our table, my mother would only allow it on if there was a particularly important game on that my dad didn’t want to miss. I’m sure that if she was raising us now, she would have required him to DVR it and watch it after our family meal.
At the time, I just thought that’s what families did: stopped everything to sit with each other for a daily meal. Now I know that it’s not that easy, because my little family of four? We’ve sat together for exactly one dinner in our home . . . ever.
It’s not that I don’t see the value of a family dinner. In fact, I’m pretty confident that those dinners were a vital reason I look back at my childhood so fondly. They strengthened my connection to my parents and brother with every bite of overcooked chicken. But I just can’t seem to figure out how to make them work for my own family, which includes a 6-year-old girl who prefers her meals come…