Technology During Dinnertime? Mother Says NO! III: Closer Relationships, Attachment, and Busy Lifestyles
Mealtime and Attachment
All participants reported that not allowing technology during mealtime has made their relationships closer and stronger. They see mealtime not only as an opportunity to enjoy each other’s company, to connect, to bond and to engage, but they also see mealtime as an opportunity to focus, to be fully present for each other, and to give their full attention. Some examples of their reflections follows bellow.
Monica described that not having technology during mealtime has made her relationship warmer with her family members. Through this description you can feel her sensibility toward her children and her attentiveness.
Um, we’re just closer. We’re tighter. We just have that moment where we all ask about our, each other’s day, whether it was good or bad. And then if it’s bad, we’re there for them, and if it was good, we celebrate. And if they have a question, it could be a silly question, like, volcanoes and rocks, and we start talking about that, and the cool things and maybe things that we can look at after we finish dinner. Um, it just, and it becomes a place maybe we just, like the kids have a funny joke to tell us and it just turns into, uh, a laughing . . . fest. And, you know, the kids are growing. They’re learning expressions. Uh, it’s, you know, especially with M. where she takes some expressions very literally. It’s just . . . It’s so much fun. (Monica, 1st Interview)
Monica described her relationship with her family members as an everyday construct where she is conscious about her children emotions and struggles.
The bonding that comes from that, uh, that we’d just get closer, they feel more open to ask questions even if they could be negative or, it, it becomes a sanctuary around the table. (Monica, 1st interview)
And she described this engagement by being available fully for them.
And it’s, it’s just, it’s that moment where we’re all around the table, not running around, not going grocery shopping or doing errands in the house, but it’s that one moment we’re all sitting and listening. (Monica, 1st interview)
She also reflected on mealtime as a place where her children are participating and having a good emotional experience.
It’s not, it’s not like, uh, it’s not like it’s we’ll come if we all have time. It’s just we, it’s just the expectation. We all get together. Um, but we all want to. You know, even though it’s expected, but I think it’s just because we, we enjoy each other’s company. We want to be there. (Monica, 1st interview)
It’s just we want to experience that happiness around the table or that feeling of satisfaction that we’ve all touched each other . . . so to speak. (Monica, 1st interview)
Monica described being available and attentive for her children.
I guess a time when we’re looking at each other. We’re present, um and it’s easier to communicate with each other instead of individually. (Monica, 2nd interview)
She described noticing her bonding when engaging in reciprocal conversation
Um, it’s just uh . . . I know we’re bonding and I can sense it. Just even from the questions that get asked from even the kids or how they remember past conversations around the dinner table. “Oh, mommy, you said this before.” (Monica, 2nd interview)
Um, uh, and it keeps us all engaged in the family. So if uh, not only are we bonding and through happiness and love but it’s also a way for us to find about what is happening with the children, “Who are they talking to? Who are their friends? Are they good influences or bad?” Um “Did they make mistakes at school?” Which we hope they do but um, uh, th-, but it’s a way for us to help give some other ideas to how they could manage a day. So we hope that we’re creating a table where it’s safe. (Monica, 2nd interview)
For Sally mealtime is place to connect in everyday interaction.
Um, I really like to think that this has a factor in improving our connections. (Sally, 1st interview)
allowed us to connect and, and be closer. (Sally, 1st interview)
Dinner table is to connect and have conversations. (Sally, 1st interview)
Sally reported that mealtime is the time to be available for each other.
We know that this is our time for each other. (Sally, 1st interview) improving our connections.(Sally, 1st interview)
She described that when technology is not around, her children understand the world better by communicating.
Because it um it does so by allowing us to think of things and, and them as well. Things to talk about right? We’re just sitting there. Like I said, there’s no other entertainment and so we start talking about things and communication increases closeness so yeah. (Sally, 2nd interview)
She noticed family members being present, fully available for each other.
the idea that all of us are present in a space and interacting, communicating. Being with each other, that creates time spent together that creates a bond that creates memories, communication. (Sally, 2nd interview)
Allison also noticed her family being more available for each other.
When it’s time to eat, they’re hungry and they realize that (laughs) . . . they have a specific time and they come and they, they all get their plates and they sit and they eat, so I think it’s, and I think they enjoy themselves talking to each other. And, um, I think that they’d rather talk to one another . . . than do something on their phone. (Allison, 1st interview)
She reported observing her family members sharing more and being more observant of each other.
It gains that closeness. It allows them to, um, engage with one another. (Allison, 1st interview)
So it, it, it helps because it’s, um, I guess that is the short time that you have for, to have that dinner, so it’s nice to have that without the distraction. (Allison, 1st interview)
Allison described how the initially imposed rule banning technology at mealtime has changed to something her family members are looking forward to.
So I guess it’s-it’s a conscious effort to sit down and actually . . . and they actually look forward to it (Allison, 2nd interview)
Olivia perceived mealtime facilitating each other’s interaction.
Well, we talk more. We interact more face-to-face. We, we find out about each other at that moment, instead of finding out about the person on the other end of the phone line or the other end of the text. We find out about the . . . our immediate family and the people that we’re living with. We, we, we care for them more. (Olivia, 1st interview)
She further reported that mealtime provided the family with an opportunity to be fully dedicated to each other.
For at least that hour, we are having no distractions, only each other, and we’re able to focus on each other and learn more about each other and help each other where we can help them. (Olivia, 1st interview)
She perceived that this bonding was occurring when no one was leaving the table and the dialogue continued.
And sometimes we sit around even when the plates are empty and continue the conversation. That’s how I can see that the bonding is happening, when nobody’s ready to leave, even when the food is gone. (Olivia, 2nd interview)
Olivia described mealtime as an opportunity to concentrate on her children.
It’s just a time for us to focus on each other instead of focusing on the people, other people in our lives that may be trying to call us, or text us, or, or games that, that are invading. Um, we’ve got the rest of the day to, to talk to other people. Dinnertime is a time for family. (Olivia, 2nd interview)
Brie described how mealtime allowed them to construct more connections in everyday interaction.
Uh, the conversation . . . If everybody’s involved in a conversation, and, yeah, topic of conversation, if everybody’s engaged, involved and . . . talking about whatever we’re talking about. (Brie, 2nd interview)