dinner table

Why we need family meals at the dinner table

Sharing a meal at the dinner table is a traditional way families and friends connect with one another. It’s a traditional place we share ideas, spend time together, and celebrate religious and cultural festivals.

Over the last two or three generations, we’ve begun to lose this tradition. In its place we have

  • “Catch what you can” nights where family members grab a snack and go,
  • Eating out at restaurants on a regular basis, where we eat under someone else’s roof, other cooks choose what is served and other people serve the meal to us and clean up afterwards,
  • Eat in front of the TV nights, where families eat with their plates on their laps in front of the TV, and little or not deep conversation is shared, or
  • Eat on the floor situations (ugh!), where families order fish and chips or similar, and picnic it out on the floor…

The list goes on. The TV, loud music, crowds, stress, and ease of food preparation all take precedence over being together and sharing a traditional meal.

The last supper, Leonardo da Vinci
Jesus thought sharing a meal was the right thing to do…

Lost in conversation…

None of these replacements give the sense of tradition, and of family, that a genuine family meal at the dinner table can provide.

If you want to raise a family, you need to be a family. The dinner table is a great place to start.

Here’s how:

Make dinner every night a non-negotiable. It doesn’t matter what you serve – although home-made healthy food is always best. It doesn’t have to be fancy.

Give the youngest child the task of setting the table. And clearing it. Older children can wash the dishes and wipe the table down afterwards, giving adults a chance to relax.

Father should sit at the head of the table. Why? Because he is the head of the family. And the mother of the family to his right. Why? Because that’s tradition.

Turn the TV off! Instead, focus on conversation, being together, sharing time. Being a family.

Talk about the events of the day. Let everyone speak in their turn. Discuss politics, school, business, social events – anything that is of interest. If a member of the family has a difficulty, work together to help them through it with ideas. That’s what communication is about.

No devices at the table. Our kids aren’t allowed phones – or any other devices – at the table. If their phone rings, they can wait to answer it later. Nothing is important enough to interrupt our dinner. This teaches them that family comes first – and that family dinners are more important than their social lives. Yes – that’s old-fashioned! 🙂

If you’re religious, say grace before dinner. We’re not, and we don’t, but this is another way to connect as a family and bring everyone together. And if you’re not religious, saying thanks in your mind for the food we are fortunate enough to enjoy isn’t a bad thing!

dinner table

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