Honey, I'm home!: Framing in family dinnertime homecomings Academic Article uri icon


  • Dinnertime has served as a lucrative site for the study of family discourse (e.g., Blum-Kulka 1997; Ochs and Taylor 1995). Its importance as a site of analysis is not surprising since dinner is one of the few activities that brings many families together on a daily basis and, as such, serves as an important site for the constitution and maintenance of the family and familial roles. In this study of the naturally occurring interaction of dual-income families with young children, the family members do not eat dinner at the same time. To understand family discourse at mealtime in these families, it is necessary to redefine 'family dinner' to include meals in which all family members are present but not everyone is eating, and to consider the wider context in which these interactions occur; that is, as part of homecoming transitions when one parent arrives home and the child and other parent are already there. I use a framing approach (Goman 1981; Tannen 1994) to consider two 'dinnertime homecomings' from two dual-earner families who tape-recorded themselves from morning until night for at least one week. I find four primary frames that occur during these interactions (dinner, managerial, caregiving, sociable) and focus on one footing that occurs within the sociable frame: a child-centered family footing. I describe how this footing is linguistically constituted during the interactions, how parents negotiate this footing as it competes with other footings and frames, and how one parent uses this footing as a resource to restore family harmony. Ultimately, the child-centered footing in a sociable frame is a family-centered footing that serves to create and maintain family solidarity. Walter de Gruyter 2006.

published proceedings

  • Text & Talk - An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language Discourse Communication Studies

author list (cited authors)

  • Kendall, S.

citation count

  • 13

complete list of authors

  • Kendall, Shari

publication date

  • January 2006