Friday, July 20, 2012

The Evolution of Family Dinners

We all have busy lives.  And modern day families are among the busiest.  When a family has active teenagers, life seems to accelerate to new heights of hyper-speed.  So what usually disappears among the chaos of practices, homework, school meetings, and job obligations?  The Family Dinner.  The Family Dinner used to be a regular in households.  Although it seems a momentous task to keep the "old fashioned" tradition alive, I would like to advocate for this very practice.

Recently, I heard Aaron Sorkin interviewed.  He is a famous and award winning screenwriter/producer of titles like The Social Network, Moneyball, and The West Wing.  Aaron remarked "I loved the sound of our dinner table!" as he was reminiscing about his experiences growing up.  That quote struck me.  It hit me like a thunderbolt.  Here was this uber successful "Hollywood" type, referring to the positive influence the family dinner table had on shaping who he was to become.  He also mentioned that his siblings and parents discussed all kinds of subjects and viewpoints during these special moments doing a very ordinary thing.  But the very ordinary thing is becoming rather extraordinary in our fast paced lives.

Sitting together and sharing a meal is a practice that is threatened.  In the worst case, we don't share any time at all as a family.  We just grab what we can and plunk ourselves in front of the nearest TV or computer screen.  In some cases, we join together at the table but the location is all we are sharing, as our cell phones or I Pads are really hijacking our attention.  My hope is that if any of this rings true to parents, they might resurrect the family dinner.  They might elevate it to it's proper revered position.  Maybe not every night.  But at least a few nights a week.  Sit down as an unplugged family and engage in conversation and debate.  Get to know each other.  Listen to your children and teenagers viewpoints and allow them to question you about yours.  Time marches on and before you know it, those teenagers will be out in the world and you will at least know that during dinner time, you shared the deliciousness of true family life.

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