What I am about to share may shock some of you.
In case you are not aware of exactly what is in that photo, I'll break it down for you. First, there are two types of people in the photo. I know that many of you may already know that, but I'm not just talking about "big people" and "little people" or even about "adults" and "children." You see, in the photo above, those big adults are actually "parents" and the little children are the "children" of those parents. A group of such people (parents with their own children) is called a "family" in some areas.
The "thing" that the family is sitting down at is called a "table." It is different than a couch, but, if you look hard enough, there just might be one in your home! Although this happens to be a small table, it could still classify as a "dinner table."
Dinner? Yes, please allow me to explain. That "stuff" in the middle of the "table" that the "family" is sitting at is "food." Food consumed in the evening is often referred to as "supper" or "dinner." The name "dinner table" once was a clue that many "families" used to help them decide what to do with this piece of furniture.
I realize that I may have taken an extreme approach to illustrate a point here. However, fewer and fewer families are eating meals together these days, and that is having a negative effect on a lot of things.
Not all too long ago, even in America, it was not all that uncommon for entire families to eat together on a regular basis. By "entire families" I mean parents with their own children and by "regular basis" I mean more often than Christmas and Easter. It seems that many factors play a role in the decline of this once common routine.
For one, families fortunate enough to still have two parents often have two parents that work a lot, frequently starting earlier and staying later. Once you add in that many schools are now serving breakfast as well as lunch, and consider youth sports in the evenings, it almost seems like purchasing a dinner table, or a house with a "dining room," may be a waste of money for many families these days.
Before I continue, I must point out that no one needs to live a life where they do not have the freedom to eat a meal with their family members. Many of us have allowed certain things to take that time away from us, and therefore, we are to blame. Even desperate and difficult situations have ways out of them, if we are only diligent enough to work towards it.
The photos in this post were taken at a local restaurant. Normally we enjoy our meals at home, but whether we eat out or at home, we eat together. Whenever I do not have to leave for work, my family even eats all three meals every day together. We may have an advantage since @mama-pepper does not work outside of the home and we home educate the @little-peppers, but those were choices that we made so we could enjoy such freedom.
At the moment, we are trying to get to the point where I will not ever need to leave home again to work too, so that we can be together and live a life together as a family. Such things may not be what everyone would desire, but that is our goal for our family.
As I reflected on some research about the effects of a family just being able to enjoy a few meals together every week, I couldn't help but wonder about the effects of a family living life together.
If you look online for research about the effects of families choosing to eat dinner together as a family, you will read some amazing stuff. By "amazing stuff" I don't mean tips for how to start a conversation with one of your family members, although you may come across some of those. (Yes, really.) However, I am speaking about things like emotional, mental, nutritional, and developmental benefits.
Many would never consider that enjoying a meal with their children and having some casual conversation can build their vocabulary better than reading books to them. They may not consider that their children may be less likely to become depressed or suicidal. They may not realize that many believe in the benefits so much that pediatricians are encouraged to recommend to parents that they attempt to eat meals regularly as a family.
As I reflected on this recently, I drew a few conclusions of my own. I think that we can all realize that it is not just where we eat or who we eat it with. I think that in the modern divided family lives that are very common in industrialized nations, the family members do not interact very much. To accomplish some real interaction, many families may find it easiest to attempt at the end of the day, hence "dinner."
Since we were created to be a part of a family, if we actually interact within that family we will be living in our "natural environment." I know that this may sound like a stretch to some people, but they are free to believe what they wish, and these are just my thoughts. Others are free to do some research and draw their own conclusions.
However, if we continue with the "natural environment" illustration, let's imagine what life would be like for a fish in the water. Then, let's compare it to what its life would be like in a desert. Can you imagine that? If not, trust me, the fish will do much better in the water, because that it is its natural environment.
Creatures develop best in their natural environment.
So, from my point of view, just being married makes me a husband and just having a child makes me a father. If I want to be the best husband possible, though, I may have to interact with my wife. Likewise, to become a better father, I may have to interact with my children. A family that interacts frequently with the itself will hopefully learn how to establish good family relationships.
I think that all of these studies on "family dinner" are really a clue about what happens when a family spends time together and interacts. There are a lot of benefits cited, and here are just a few articles to get you started if you want to look into it.
My advice for anyone out there who is part of a family is that you think about things like this. Does your family spend a good amount of time interacting in a positive way? Do you know the other members in your family? Do you need "conversation starter tips" just to talk to your spouse or children?
As far as I know, we get one chance with relationships like this. Eventually @mama-pepper and I will be dead and the @little-peppers may be all that we leave behind. I'd like the life that I live with them now to be the healthiest and most beneficial that it can be, and I'd like to be there for them when they need me. That can only happen id I have a good relationship with them and spend time interacting with them. Eating a family dinner on a regular basis is just one way that we can be working towards that goal.
As always, I'm @papa-pepper and here's the proof:
Until next time…
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