Families are becoming fragmented in modern life and parents should spend more time eating and cooking with their children, Mary Berry has said.
Preparing and eating food together is at the “heart of family life” and meals should be shared as a family rather than consumed in front of the television, the baking expert said.
She added that she had regretted spending time away from her own children while they were growing up due to the demands of her work.
In an interview with the Sunday Times magazine, the Great British Bake Off presenter, 78, said her three children Annabel, Thomas and William, had all been brought up to help out in the kitchen.
“I still think it’s essential for a parent to cook with their children,” she said. “Weighing out the ingredients and learning where the food comes from is educational, but it also helps to place meal times at the heart of family life. We never had dinner in front of the TV.”
She added that she likes to do traditional “granny things” with her grandchildren, such as making, jam, playing board games and taking them fishing, rather than visiting theme parks.
“Family life is fragmenting in this modern age, but it’s up to all of us to keep it together,” she said.
Her daughter Annabel, 42, said her mother had always been a “stickler for meal times” and that the family would eat together at the same time each day, in the same positions at the table.
“Round the dinner table was where the family really connected,” she said. “Sadly, we’ve all got lazier and we’re more reliant on computer games to keep kids occupied these days, but I’m so proud that one of Mum’s legacies is to get families back round the dinner table.”
Annabel told how her mother had insisted on running the salad dressing business the two embarked on together for the first few years, so that Annabel could focus on bringing up her young children.
She said Mrs Berry had described “not being a mother” to her children as her biggest regret, and urged her not to make the same mistake.
Mrs Berry admitted she had been absent for long periods and said “there was a time when I did regret my decision”, but added that to carry on working had been the right thing to do.
She also revealed how her Christian faith had been “tested” when her son William died in a car accident in 1989, at the age of 19.
Rather than “shouting and screaming” about the situation she said she accepted it and looked on the fact he had enjoyed a happy life as a “bonus”.