Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Thanks Sheryl Sandberg for Taking Family Dinner "Out of the Closet"

Family dinner has come up again in the news, this time thanks to Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, who has come out publicly to declare that "Yes," she makes time for family dinner.  It is interesting that she said she's been doing it for years, both when she was at Google and now at Facebook, but has only recently "come out" for family dinner publicly. What a powerful statement! First, that you would have to "come out" to say that you leave the office at 5:30pm so you can have family dinner (and that it is big news with over 1,000 shares on Huffington Post). And second, that one of the leading business people in America can say that finding regular time for your family is important and priceless, and that it is important for women, and men, to agree to do it.

I often get distinct reactions when I talk about family dinner. Some people treat my advice to try family dinner as something akin to suggesting they build a spaceship and take it to the moon -- it just seems like an impossible task! Other people whisper to me in hushed tones, "We have family dinner most nights a week, but I never really talk about it. It's great that you are actually talking about it." Their tone suggests that they are slightly embarrassed about making family dinner a priority and actually pulling it off regularly. There is a (genuine) concern that if you are committed to family dinner you must be
  • hopelessly old-fashioned, 
  • willing to commit career suicide, 
  • have live-in help, 
  • have a lot of time on your hands. 
  • Or maybe all of the above.
I know from talking with dual-income working families across the country that family dinner is a way of life for many and not rocket science. But in certain circles, family dinner is totally "in the closet" and is some kind of mystery that men and women are reluctant to even discuss. I'm glad Sheryl Sandberg's statements are bringing out more discussion on family dinner so we can talk about the hows and whys to make it a reality. (Some of my own tips are here and Blog for Family Dinner is a great resource for stories about how real families are making it work.)

I applaud Sheryl Sandberg for coming out for family dinner. Will you? The first step to making family dinner a reality is the commitment. Talk with your family about what small steps you could take. Can you try for family dinner 2 or more nights a week? Can you build up from wherever you start? What would it take to put that together? Talking to your boss, doing more meal planning, reducing out some after school or evening commitments? Make the commitment and follow through. Just like you do at work everyday.

No comments:

Post a Comment