“It’s in the teenage years that this daily investment [of eating together] pays some of its biggest dividends.
Studies show that the more often families eat together, the less likely kids are to smoke, drink, do drugs, get depressed, develop eating disorders and consider suicide, and the more likely they are to do well in school, delay having sex, eat their vegetables, learn big words and know which fork to use.
Family mealtime is about civilizing children. It’s about teaching them to be a member of their culture.”
The researchers found essentially that family mealtime gets better with practice; the less often a family eats together, the worse the experience is likely to be, the less healthy the food and the more meager the talk.
Also they say, the older that kids are, the more they may need this protected time together, but the less likely they are to get it. Busyness and parental self-interest seems to be the culprit.
Consider keeping family mealtime together a year-round resolution. You may be wanting to lose weight, get more sleep, or spend less, but sitting down to share a meal together gives far more lasting benefits.
Taking a meal together allows for talking over current events, praying together, and enjoying each other’s presence. Memories are made at the table. No matter how simple the fare, it will keep on paying dividends well into the next generation.
There is something about a shared meal – not once in awhile but regularly, reliably – that anchors a family.
Certainly physical nourishment is important but when we share a meal together we share much more. We share our time. We slow down if for just a minute and show that we have time to take interest in others, to care for them, and open our hearts to them – to show them love. Such communion acts as a kind of inoculation, protecting children’s hearts from all manner of harm.
This is right where we are in our life. Our young people are almost 19, 19, and 21. We are their confidants and coaches, and they desire our time. I make sure the blog and other duties don’t take over family mealtime.
So turn off the radio or the TV (better yet, get rid of the TV), pull up the chairs, pull out a simple pretty tablecloth, let an answering machine take the calls, and just see where this good habit will take you!
“Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred.”
~ Prov. 15: 17
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