The Traditional American Family Dinner Is Over

Think Leave It to Beaver or any 1950’s type sit-com. All those black-and-white stories often revolved around the dinner table, an archetypal image captured several times in the artwork of Norman Rockwell.

It’s gone.

Families don’t gather every night around the dinner table for a shared meal that mom cooked like they used to, and Rice University Sociology professor Dr. Stephen Klineberg says it’s a reflection of changing social mores. “It’s a beautiful measure of how much America has changed, how much we have changed. How we are different folk than we were when we out to the suburbs and built this sprawling metropolis. When the average American woman was at home.”

When families lived in cities they often rented or lived with an extended multi-generation household. Suburbs liberated them to have their own home, with a nice dining room, where a table could reflect the success of the family as they gathered to enjoy a bountiful meal. So Leave It to Beaver-ish.

“Women were at home taking care of 3.6 children during the 1945 to 1964 years of the baby boom,” says Klineberg. Now there are fewer children, fewer couples are married, and women are in the work force.

One of the greatest reflections of how society has changed over the past 50 years is the disappearance of the family gathered around a dinner table.

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