Cheav Chhunhour, 23, used to spend every meal around the table with his family. That was before he started spending most lunches and dinners with his friends.
“Eating with friends is vivid and lively because there are more people, unlike family,” he says.
If life with his friends is vivid, then his life at home might as well be in monotone, according to Chhunhour, who adds that his family often spends mealtimes in silence.
“It’s too quiet and boring.”
While many young people eat their meals outside their homes and go to parties with their friends, there still are those who would prefer to spend their time with family. Srun Sreypov, 22, is one. She says she finds going out with friends all the time a waste of time and money.
“I think having meals with friends and family is not that different, but having meals at home with family is better because I don’t need to pay, and I can spend time with the people who love me.”
Many parents lament the loss of quality family time. Some even say it raises issues of trust.
For Danh Monika, a 57-year-old mother, if a young person is constantly hanging out with friends and not spending much time at home, they may be more susceptible to behaviours like skipping class or using drugs.
Monika is quick to point out, however, that it’s fine if teens go to the occasional party or have a meal out with friends from time to time. But everything in moderation, she says.
“I don’t ban my children from going to parties, but I just don’t let them do so every day . . . I think my children should stay at home [sometimes] so we can be together.”
Meanwhile, as a father, Thak Sok, 65, says he knows of several young people are always going out at night. They lie to their parents and tell them that they are sleeping at their friends’ houses. However, what they are really up to, he believes, is having sex with their sweetheart or hitting the clubs after a party.
“No one should party every night, and if they are smart students, they will not like parties so much,” he says.