How Do I Get My Son's Family To Eat Dinner Together?

Dear Bintel Brief:

I’m very upset. My son, daughter-in-law and their four children NEVER sit down together at the dinner table. One child works at Abercrombie & Fitch; another is being tutored for the SAT (Sheer Agony Test); another is on a traveling soccer team; the fourth child belongs to a Jewish motorcycle club called “Chai Riders.”

I don’t want to interfere. But I’ve read studies that show that teenagers who ate five to six meals a week with their families were less likely to smoke cigarettes, use marijuana, drink alcohol, grow depressed or attempt suicide. Children who ate with their families were also more likely to have higher academic scores, confide in their parents and feel that their parents were proud of them.

Family dinners were a staple of my 1950s childhood in Rockaway Beach, N.Y. At our house, we could count on dinner every night at 6:45 — the same way we could count on our Catholic neighbors having fish on Fridays.

How can I impress upon my son’s family that the key to success is as close as the kitchen table?


Joan Nathan responds:

Joan Nathan is the author of numerous cookbooks, including “Jewish Cooking in America” (Knopf, 1994), “Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook” (Schocken, 2004) and “The New American Cooking” (Knopf, 2005). She is at work on a book about French Jewish cuisine, slated release next fall.

If you have a question for the Bintel Brief, send an email to Questions selected for publication are printed anonymously. New installments of the column are published on Mondays.

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How Do I Get My Son's Family To Eat Dinner Together?

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