Family Dinner Time
Family Dinner Time
It seems that although we have made great advances in many areas of life, we have also had some losses. One of these is the loss in many of our homes of the family dinnertime.
I remember as a little girl, my family of nine squeezing around our dinner table every night, and Dad asking each of us in turn how our day had gone.
I remember always sitting to the left of my Dad, and his warm rough hand would hold mine as we bowed our heads and said grace. It was always the same grace, and I never did understand what “mercies of thy providence” meant.
But that didn’t matter. What mattered was the sense of security and belonging that came with that simple ritual. What mattered, and still matters to me today, was knowing that I was part of a family that loved me. That I had a place to feel safe, and to know that I mattered, and what my day had been like was important to someone.
We learnt things around the table. We learnt not to play with our food! We learnt how to listen to others, and wait our turn to speak. We learnt values like respect, care and working together.
Studies have been done about the protective effect of family dinners, and they have come up with the following benefits….
- Family dinners provide a safe place for adults and children to debrief their day and receive emotional support if it’s been a tough one.
- Having dinner together keeps us in touch with each other, and helps us to value and strengthen our family relationships.
- Dinnertime allows us to deal with small issues before they become big problems, exchange information, and express our opinions.
- We get to share about our values and why they matter.
Dinnertime can be fun too. Laughter, stories and jokes become part of the fabric that holds us together. And they relieve stress and tension. Everyone is noticed around the table. Everyone, no matter how small, has a chance to speak and be listened to.
Maybe it’s not possible for the family to all be together for the evening meal. That’s ok. The time of day, the actual event, is not what’s most important. But the fact that we build into our routine, a time where we connect with each other, focus on each other, hear each other- that is what really matters.
What a gift we can give our kids as they face the uncertainties and instability of the world. A life-long memory of being heard, being valued, being loved and having fun. It doesn’t take that much.