When I was a young child, this was a daily activity. Everyone was involved in the process, from preparing the food to setting the table. When it was time, my mother would call, “Supper.”
We would turn the television or radio off, and we would take our places at the table. We would thank God for His blessings and then fill our plates. As we ate together, we would talk about our day’s activities.
This is how we shared, how we learned one another, and how we discussed issues we faced. This was family.
Over time, we moved from the table to living room couch and from homemade recipes to prepared foods. I remember the first TV dinners and the folding TV trays. We still prayed, but we then escaped to the living room. We stopped facing one another. We no longer talked about our days, but about the show on television.
When microwaves came along, we stopped preparing our meals, and we simply zapped our food and ate it. This simpler way was supposed to free up more time for family. Instead, we watched more television. Since we could heat up items in smaller portions, we began to eat separately. We settled for busy lives, and we no longer planned for the family meal. We grew apart.
Does this sound like your history, too?
I want to challenge you to recapture the family meal. Plan your suppertime as a family. Turn off the television. Get rid of distractions. Get everyone involved in meal preparation. Go back to a dinner table. Sit together, and realize the great blessing of your own family. Bow your heads together, pray, and thank God for one another and his mercy in your lives. Serve one another. Learn to smile again and talk about your days. Laugh. Take this simple challenge, and see your family draw closer to one another.
Consider these statistics:
• The average parent spends 38.5 minutes per week in meaningful conversation with their
children. (A.C. Nielsen Co.)
• Family dinners are more important than play, story time and other family events in the
development of vocabulary of younger children. (Harvard Research, 1996)
• Frequent family meals are associated with a lower risk of smoking, drinking and using drugs; with a lower incidence of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts; and with better grades in 11 to 18-year-olds. (Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 2004)
• Adolescent girls who have frequent family meals and a positive atmosphere during those meals are less likely to have eating disorders. (University of Minnesota, 2004)
Slow down, and take time for family gatherings regularly. Teach your children the value of family by setting an example. And, make God a part of your daily conversations!
The Rev. Dale Hensarling is pastor of Patterson Covenant Church. Sermon notes is a column by local religious leaders.