Family Dinners – The Benefits of an Eat-in-Kitchen

Whenever my wife and I talk about a floor to ceiling remodel of our kitchen, we tend to disagree on the use of space based on the subject of family dinners.

For instance, I envision a peninsula or island with a few stools surrounding it, while she prefers a more traditional 4-seat table for dining. Her argument rests solely on maintaining the “eat-in-kitchen” status we currently have for future resale value.

But lately, I’m not so sure that matters to most would-be home buyers. Perhaps an “eat-in” living room might be more appropriate.

An article recently appeared on the Wall Street Journal’s website entitled, “No McMansions for Millennials.” It recommends that houses of the future skip the dining room, but “don’t forget space in front of the television for the Wii, and space to eat meals while glued to the tube, because dinner parties and families gathered around the table are so last-Gen.”

Since when did family dinners become so out of fashion? When did televisions, computers and cell phones become more interesting than the people we live with? Face to face communication is free folks, and an integral part of any relationship. And yet it’s become “so last-Gen” for so many Americans.

The other night my wife and I grabbed a bite to eat at a local chain restaurant, seated next to your average family of four – a mother, father and two children between the ages of ten to fourteen. We immediately noticed something alarming. The entire time we were there, every member of that four person family was on their cell phones texting or chatting – never once communicating verbally with each other. And when their food finally arrived, they ate in silence – though mom and dad were regularly playing around with their phones. I have a sneaky suspicion, this is becoming the norm in many American homes today.

Maybe my wife is on to something. Removing the “eat-in-kitchen” status from our home would only further prompt the next owners to plop in front of the television for their daily meals instead of having family dinners. Maybe still having these spaces clearly defined might some day spur on family meals together where parents actually talk to their children and children share details of their day that might otherwise go unnoticed. 

You know there was a time not so long ago, when we didn’t have technological advances to use as excuses for not communicating. That was a time when families were closer to each other, not the television set.