Do you have memories of family meals ~ sharing challenges of the day, laughing about funny stories, debating the news, honoring family members, eating favorite family foods?
Regrettably so for many busy American families, shared mealtime is becoming less and less common. One in four parents reported that their families eat together four or fewer times per week. One in ten parents admitted that they eat only one or no meals per week with their children.
Experts agree that shared mealtimes strengthen families, support child development and promote parent-child communications.
Children feel a sense of belonging and stability. Mealtime conversations connect families and can stimulate in-depth discussions.
Adolescents who eat meals with their families frequently are likely to be more highly motivated in school and have better peer relationships.
Teenagers who eat with their families are less likely to be depressed and use drugs compared to those who do not.
Do you know there is a health benefit also? Families who eat together at the table tend to eat healthier foods – less fat, less sugar and less packaged foods.
Create a sacred space
How about creating a “sacred” space during dinner? Turn off the television, i-Pods, cell phones. Let the answering machine pick up messages. After a busy day, create a “sacred” space where family members can relax and enjoy time together – a place for each family member to de-stress and appreciate being with each other.
When you are sitting at the table, note what is above the level of the table line – your heart! Heart-to-heart, each family member has an opportunity to share with each other while strengthening the family bond.
You may want to go around the table and have each family member say what they were grateful for that day or how they helped someone or how they manifested a certain virtue. Try adding humor ~ and watch how it heals and strengthens family ties while helping dissolve stresses of the day.
And remember to say grace together before the meal to bless your family and the food as well as to thank God for His blessings.