Saturday, August 4, 2012

It's Dinner Time...Come to the Table

First of all I'm sharing a huge "Praise God" moment as I sit down at my computer to write with the window wide open.  The cool fresh air is such a treat, and I am incredibly thankful that maybe, just maybe, someday soon it will be fall.

I recently read an article in Parenting magazine that started by saying, "What if we told you there was a magic bullet for all of these childhood issues?" and then went on to list a host of really important things like eating more fruits and vegetables, loving to read, preventing eating disorders, lowering the risk of depression, etc.  The answer was so incredibly simple, it caused me to wonder what kind of society we are in that we need to remind ourselves about meals together.  That was it. 

The article, written by Dr. Alan Greene recommended seven family meals together a week.  Any meal, not in front of the screen, and start as soon as possible.  "Even without extra effort or conscious thought, family meals are associated with better nutrition, better weight, better health, better behavior, better school performance, and happier children," said Greene. 

Family meals is something that has been important to me in raising a family, to me it's second nature, and I never before stopped to reflect on how fortunate I was to grow up in a household where this was a closely held value.  Setting the table and helping mom in the kitchen.  Eating together as a family.  Saying a simple prayer.  Listening to one another's days.  Without question family meals are one of my favorite daily memories of growing up, and I think instilled a lot of roots within me that I didn't realize at the time. 

At the white Formica table with the mint green chairs I learned responsibility and how to pitch in by setting the table.  I learned to count peas and bargain with years of life, days of the week and months in the year so that I only had to eat the required amount of the smooshy green things.  I learned that mom meant business when she dumped my sister's plate and sent her to her room for being rude about the meal. (It only happened once. The message was pretty clear.)  I learned the importance of prayer as a family.  I learned how to listen and gained a love for conversation.  Reflecting back on those hundreds of meals, I also realize that is exactly where my love for business and being a professional comes from.  I loved listening about my dad's work experiences and daydreaming about someday being like him.  In the mornings I practiced memory work and learned how to manage time, microwave oatmeal just right (cookie dough consistency), and that it's not good manners to brush your teeth while walking all over the house, a problem I still have today.  We celebrated birthday breakfasts around that table, good grades, anniversaries, and the most amazing snow days on the planet.

Family meals with a hectic life, full schedules, and a toddler can be a challenge, but for me it's a priority.  At our cream colored Formica counter top we eat together at least once a day.  Jett has been a part of this routine since day one.  He and I also get the benefit of nearly every morning breakfast together with my mom around the table.  How do I know he's learning valuable lessons, even when he's still throwing Cherrios?  It's when he simply folds his little hands and reminds us to pray before every single meal. 

Yes, I would agree with Dr. Greene, family meals are very important.

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