Here’s why dinner is important:

If we didn’t sit down as a family — once a day; electronics off — I wouldn’t know what “fuck-boys” are.

Sorry for the F-bomb. But its existence is crucial to the reason I insist on daily family dinners.

My youngest is finishing his eighth-grade year. My oldest graduates high school in June. Both are headed into new life chapters, where they’ll face new situations and new life-views.

In today’s hyper-sexualized society, that’s scary (at least for an old and dated mom like me).

So at tonight’s dinner table, we’re talking about sex. The conversation veers from hookups to etiquette (it’s not acceptable to gang-rape a passed-out coed) to STDs to birth control.

The conversation meanders. But eventually it lands on the old-fashioned idea of reputation. Which is when I learn that, A, reputations still matter and, B, the boys are the ones getting them.

“Oh, yeah,” my youngest says, referencing the sexing, sexting teenage set. “Those are f*%k-boys.”

Well … okay.

My mother often asks how I raise kids today.

“We talk,” I tell her. “And we eat dinner.”

It doesn’t matter what we eat. It could be four grand courses or takeout from the neighborhood Chipotle. What’s important is turning off the i-Pad, getting off the Play Station, putting away the laptop and sitting down together for 20, 30, 40 (if I’m lucky) minutes to reconnect. We talk about each other’s days and figure out upcoming schedules. We revisit disagreements from the morning. We worry about the latest political news (and plan our move to Canada …).

The conversations can be mundane. In truth, they usually are. But I learn something new every night — about my kids, my husband, my world-view.

I sometimes even learn a new word. (Sorry.)

Fast Asian-Style Chicken Patties (Adapted from “Gourmet”)

chicken patties


When conversation is the point of dinner, you don’t want to come to the table exhausted. These chicken patties go from fridge to plate in less than 30 minutes.

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained
  • 1 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 teaspoon jalepeno, seeds and ribs removed
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Place the chicken, water chestnuts, scallions, jalepeno and cilantro in a food processor. Process until finely chopped and well combined. Turn out into a bowl.

Using damp hands, form the meat mixture into 2-inch patties and set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the patties 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels, then serve.