What is the Whole… The Family that Eats Together, Stays Together Anyway?
Last night while out to eat at a local restaurant with my son, I looked around and seen several other families eating together as one unit on a Friday night. Is this also strange to you or is this still normal now days for families to eat together? Nonetheless, have you bothered lately to have a look around your house or a restaurant and noticed yours or other families actually still eating and engaging one another in this day and age filled with technology, social media, and life stress(es)? (i.e. and I’m not talking about all those families or yours that sit next to each other but are completely detached from one another either). Notice how many of you do this but also take notice of how many of you actually engage your other family members not merely sitting together while each of you operate in your own world(s) on your own digital devices or watching television. Now I ask… “does the family that eats together, stay together?” Do you think that this old saying is still relevant today?
Connected or Disconnected Family: What is the Right Recipe?
By no means am I an expert in parenting but I truly believe that this (eating together but not actually communicating with one another) is growing problem in America and throughout the world. Does it make sense if families have any chance of sustaining themselves long-term just like a business, they need to spend more time together especially during dinner. When I was growing up, I can remember dinner was one of the few times that our family actually connected with one another because we didn’t have many distractions. Let’s face it who wanted to watch television in black in white anyway. Now as a single dad I wanted to address why eating together (and YES I mean actually talking to your other family members) is still important to your family’s long-term success). Boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen I must admit if you follow this recipe you will not only put food on the table but you will be back on the right track of putting your family back together.
Take stock of what you have
Each morning when you wake up the man or woman that you see in your mirror is actually you. I hate to tell you but YES that person is you! There are a million and one reason(s) why when you look in the mirror you continue to make excuses for the life you have created. However, if you think hard about the things in the past that have lead you to this point (whether you are happy or not), I bet you can equate almost if not all of your positive/negative feelings to a point in your life that involved other people… especially family members, YES? My point is, we are all far from perfect but if you surround yourself with others that positively affect you and/or your family, you can begin to take stock of what you actually have or what actually matters most to you. This is especially important if you have kids since they look or are looking for that special leader in their life. So, how can you have a positive effect on your children? This is as simple as putting down all those electronic devices and creating REAL conversation with your kids well sharing a meal together and not sharing a meal together while everyone in your family is engaged with others in the digital world.
A brief look back
It wasn’t long ago that I discovered that technology was/is changing the relationship I have with my son. This is both good and bad. Therefore, after dinner last night I decided to take a step back to think about the days I spent with my family growing up to help shed some light on what I could do to be the leader in my son’s life much like my dad was in mine. My dad worked extremely hard when I was young mostly at night, so we didn’t get to see him that often and likewise with my mom but the only difference was she worked the day shift. Split parenting at its finest. However, one thing my parents did was make sure that we all came together over a nice family dinner every night (i.e. whether we had to go to my dad’s work, eat in a car, or at a restaurant), which I can remember being special even to this day. Do you have any early memories? Do most of the things you remember about your childhood include dinner with the/your family?
How about grandma and grandpa…
Having lost all my grandparents at an early age (all before I was out of elementary), I am not 100% but I truly believe that children without any thought are given the natural ability to love and cherish the time they spend with their grandparents. Does that sound about right? In fact, grandparents in most families = a long time lasting memory regardless of how significant just like having dinner together. Yes again? Like I mentioned I lost all my grandparents early in life but I remember breakfast each morning cooked by my mom’s mother and other dinners cooked by my dad’s mom, especially Holiday dinners…. Boy, were those fun! One reason I believe that I remember these things (all before age 8) is because we were not engaged in our electronic devices but instead engaged with one another. Therefore, if you are a complete family unit or a single parent and you want to disconnect the young’ins then I highly recommend calling in the grandparents as an added resource because more than likely they will tell REAL stories (extremely important over breakfast or dinner) not digital stories thus bringing your family closer together.
The effortless approach
Some of you may or may not already know but late last year I lost my mother. Before she passed away, one thing my son and I did religiously was cook dinner for my mom and dad most Sunday afternoons, which allowed each of us the opportunity to share unfiltered stories with one another. Okay, maybe a lot of the stories coming from the grandparents were retold to me but not to my son. This/these stories and memories made these days extremely important since they created new memories for my son (he still talks about them over a year later and he is only 8), which made me realize more that this was approximately the same age I can remember having similar memories over dinner with my own grandparents. As simple, as this may sound there is not any excuse for each and every one of us to help create these new memories with our own children over dinner even in this age of all the new digital communication. Even though it is just my son and I most evenings, the one thing that I have/continue to do is make sure that we have dinner together each night (without any television, internet, or other distractions), so we too can create long lasting memories. Even though my mother is gone now, my son and I still have dinner with my dad most Sundays. Yes my father still tells my son about all those things I did to piss him off when I was young but those/these times are about as valuable as gold is to most people/parents since the lasting memories continue on long after dinner or a visit has ended. As significant or as insignificant as this may sound, as my child grows older, I have to believe that these dinners (whether with me or the family) will become the ammunition for my sons own success because he knows how hard/long I work each day to have this time we spend together each night without interruptions. The moral of this story is that if I as a single dad can make time each night (i.e. on the weekends with my dad) to connect with my son over dinner, while sharing real life experiences you too can provide these valuable life lessons to your family and children over dinner. So, back to the question at the beginning of this article…do you find it strange these days for families to eat together? My answer just like 30 years ago growing up is no, since these dinners provide the memories and fuel more of us need to tackle present and future challenges. If you haven’t given thought or perhaps have forgotten have valuable dinner is with your family I encourage you to continue on with eating together with your families and continue on with the old saying… “A family that eats together, stays together” my friends, as I am sure you won’t be disappointed that you did.