Family Dinners Are Overrated

At the end of my daily 50-minute commute home from work, I pull into the driveway of our home on an elongated cul-de-sac. I turn off my car’s engine, turn off the podcast I was listening to, take out my ear buds, get out of the car and head inside. As I enter the mud room off of our garage I hear my wife (Kim) in the kitchen. “Come on. Daddy’s home. Get your spikes on and grab your water bottle.”

Family dinners are overrated
Kevin Duy is a Sport Dad & creator of – a website for dads who have at least one son with a passion for sports. Learn how to help your son become the best athlete HE wants to be and how to become the best Sports Dad YOU want to be.
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On most evenings, there’s no sitting down to the dinner table as a family and discussing how our day was. Nope. Not in this Sports Family’s home.

A Night In The Life Of A Sports Family

Our typical nightly routine consists of my wife getting home from her demanding job as a first grade teacher, helping our three boys (ages 9, 6 and 5) with their homework  and making a healthy meal for all of us to enjoy (at some point). She usually mixes in a load or two of laundry as well. (Yes, she is awesome. And no, you can’t have her. ;>)

The boys usually sit at our breakfast bar to eat their dinner while Kim cleans up the kitchen. Shortly after that, I get home. I run upstairs to change clothes as quickly as possible, grab the boys, get back into the car and head off to practice. On game nights, Kim will come with us.

Does any of that resemble your typical weeknight?

Would I Like To Eat Dinner As A Family, Every Night?

Sure I would. But it’s simply not possible. And frankly, I’m tired of feeling guilty about it. It seems like I’m constantly reading about the importance of family meal time. I hear family “experts” say things like “The family that eats together, stays together.” When I hear stuff like that, it makes me feel like I’m putting my family at risk of falling apart. Or that my boys will grow up to be drug addicts, because we didn’t all sit down and fill our pie holes together every night.

Well you know what? My wife and I want our boys to live active and healthy lives. We want them to pursue their passions. Right now, they happen to be passionate about sports. And their sports happen to take place between 5:30 and 8:00 p.m. Also known as, “Dinner Time.

In order for us to eat dinner as a family every night, we would have to eat between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. During the school year, the boys’ bedtime is between 8 and 8:30. So by eating dinner as a family we would have to:

  • push their bedtime back and sacrifice important sleep their bodies need
  • make them eat a meal and go straight to sleep, which isn’t healthy
  • make them go to their practices and games hungry
  • make them more likely to grab miscellaneous junk as a snack before practices and games

There’s More Than One Way To Bond

Every moment you spend with your family is a chance to bond. A chance to talk to your kids and spouse. My family has our dinner table conversations in the mini van on the way to practices and games, in the backyard over a game of catch, in the street while passing the hockey puck or soccer ball back and forth or while running errands on the weekend.

Meal Times Aren’t Always Meaningful Times 

When I was growing up, my family ate dinner together every night. And you know what? I’m not close with them. On the other hand, my wife’s family rarely ate dinner together. Yet they’re extremely close.

And honestly, when we are home to have a family dinner, our boys scarf down their food so they can go outside to play. So it’s difficult to get their full attention and have meaningful conversations at the dinner table anyway.

Do What Works For Your Family 

My wife and I put our kids and our family first in everything that we do. I’ll never apologize for that.  So if your family is like mine, and constantly on the go with demanding schedules, don’t feel bad if you must sacrifice eating dinner together every night. You’ve got to create a life and a schedule that works for your family, not the family “experts”.

Question: What’s your take on making family dinner an everyday priority?


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15 thoughts on “Family Dinners Are Overrated

  1. I loved this! As a family with 3 kids in club sports, there is little time for sit down dinners all together. I cherish that one or two nights a week that it can happen, because it is sacred time with all of us together. But, I also grew up in a home where we had family dinners together and I’m not close to them. So I absolutely agree that family bonds are made in the little moments and as long as we are aware of that and pouring in to our families whenever we have the opportunity then we’re creating relationship!

  2. Great post! Each family is unique as are the values the parents choose to instill in their children. I have a deep respect for that diversity and applaud you for raising your three sons in the way you and your wife feel is best for your family. For us (11 yo daughter, 8 yo son), we limit each to one sport (gymnastics and baseball, respectively) and that works for us in our chosen lifestyle and the values we choose to emphasize.

    • That’s great. My wife and I are just gluttons for punishment. We “limit” our boys to 2 activities at a time. Sports just happen to be their activities of choice. Although our oldest (9) is only playing hockey in the fall/winter. He didn’t want to play soccer. So he’s currently shopping for another activity to do. He can’t possibly let his brothers get two things while he only gets one! ;>) He’s into art, so we may look into something along those lines.

  3. Great post. Like coaching, you have to learn to adapt, change, and do what works within your environment. Part of teaching life lessons is about finding creative ways to have those bonding moments. How you do it, is less important that finding time to grow and bond as a family. Like you, the best communication I have with my boys comes in the car to and from their sports activities.

    • Love the coaching & parenting analogy, Mario. You’re so right. The great coaches adjust & create their game plan based on the players on their roster. They don’t try to force their players into a game plan that simply won’t work for their skills and talents. You’ve gotta be flexible. Remember what the end goal is. The end goal of a family dinner is to create a time to bond as a family. Well, if you can create alternative ways to accomplish that goal, then go for it!

  4. Finally! A blog post about families who can still connect while running to and from soccer and basketball practices while squeezing dinner as they go. I’ve felt guilty about our busy evening routine (two girls who play travel soccer/basketball) for years. I recently gave up on the picture perfect family dinner.

    • Thanks Janet. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one tired of feeling guilty about having a schedule that just isn’t conducive to a nightly family dinner. There’s enough pressure and stress involved in raising a family. We don’t need any extra stress put upon us from societal views. Besides, when our kids grow up and reflect on their childhood, what do you think they’ll be more thankful of: eating a family dinner every night or all the sacrifices and commitments their parents made so that they could do the things they love, like play sports?

  5. I think you nailed it. The important part is bonding with your family and finding what works for your family. How people interact is going to vary. Some may bond over meals, others over sports, other over table gaming nights. As long as that social bonding is happening, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up over HOW it’s happening.