Aside from the obvious reason of families eating together being a healthier choice for the body, there are many more reasons to support the idea that it’s also good for the soul.
If you’ve ever watched an episode of Blue Bloods, you noticed that the Reagans, a Catholic family of public servants, always began their meals with saying grace, carrying on a generations-long tradition of family feasting and thanksgiving. Their weekly commitment to have a Reagan family dinner is an invaluable tool used to review the week’s activities of every member from the kids to Great-grandpa. Their mealtimes are rarely without conflict, but they also don’t usually leave the table without resolution. It’s obvious that the Reagans are a tight family probably due to the hardships they’ve had to endure.
I know. It’s just a t.v. show, but is it possible that we achieve similar intimacy in our own real family? Since I’m certainly not even close to being a professional family counselor, I found the need to research the topic of the importance of family meals in our modern culture and discovered some things that seem to make a lot of sense.
According to the National Council on Family Relations, mealtimes:
are all about bonding.
represent safety, security and connectedness.
provide opportunities for children to develop their communication and socialization skills which are important for social and emotional maturity.
If those reasons aren’t enough to convince you to begin or continue family meal times, I also found 6 scientific reasons on www.fatherly.com for the importance of family dining:
Improved mental health
Bonded families (as with the Reagan family mentioned above)
Introducing a new custom of dining together into your family on a fairly regular basis does not have to be daunting. The Department of Agriculture at Purdue University has some great and practical ideas to help you establish this new routine:
Schedule family meals
Keep meals simple
Plan family meals besides dinner
So now you’re getting beautiful visions of making some warm and fuzzy memories around your dinner table and getting a bit inspired, right? Read on.
As you realize, connecting with your family/kids is more than just sitting down at the same dinner table. Your heart’s desire is to really know each other, but not everyone has the gift of chatter. Being a bit more shy or private than some, it’s often a challenge for me to come up with something to talk about. But I discovered a wonderful resource (TheFamilyDinnerProject.org) that has a plethora of fun and meaningful conversation starters broken down into age groups for everyone between the ages of 2 and 100.
But, wait. What if the time we give to show our genuine love and respect to our children during family mealtime pours out into our selfish, greedy society and actually catches on?! In this dog-eat-dog world of throw-away relationships, we can vow to make the necessary sacrifices to strengthen our families. I, for one, desire for my family to be among many whose togetherness at mealtime starts a wave of changing the world...one dinner table at a time.
All great change in America begins at the dinner table. --Ronald Reagan (No relation to the Blue Bloods cast.)