Me, “Dinner conversation is training for life.” Tip 16
Mealtime was one of the big constant in our family for many reasons. Not only is the conversation training for life, but also is the practice, the nutrition and the unity.
For me, mealtime is the family’s backdrop. I like to say, you can get a lot wrong as a parent, but if you sit together during mealtime a great deal can be repaired. This was invaluable time. Much learning and even more loving happened at the dinner table.
In addition to the intangibles such as respect, healthy living, development of communication skills and togetherness, there were also many tangibles rewards. Regular mealtime provided lessons on cooking, punctuality and table manners. There were no hand-held devices when I was raising Michael; however, I can confidently say they would not have been at the table or in the bedroom.
In our home we had a television and a computer, neither of which were in the bedroom or in play at mealtimes. We started promptly at 5:30 barring any unforeseen circumstances or alternative fun options.
Punctuality was a big factor in this special routine. In our home, dinner was scheduled for 5:30. It may not have been served at exactly 5:30, but everyone was on deck.
It was a challenge to uphold this standard at times. Fortunately for us our work life allowed for it. Where parents are doing shift work such consistency may not be achievable. In cases when Big Mike was working late, our dinner proceeded and he ate later. This, of course, was about regularity for Michael, there are always exceptions.
Not only did the practice give Michael a solid foundation, it was also important in keeping me on track, accountable and focused. In the early years I did not have the strongest parenting skills, but I could tell time and I could cook. When I didn’t have much else sorted out, I knew feeding Michael was my responsibility.
In my early childhood, mealtimes were something that did happen in my family. We were a “meat and potatoes” kind of family. A tin picture of the ‘last supper’ was centered squarely on the dinning room wall. Each meal started with, heads bowed, “God is good. God is great. Let us thank him for this food. Amen.” In hindsight, I notice when our family started breaking down, meals were one of the first things to go.
I do have fond memories of hearty meals and togetherness as a child. I remember rolling meatballs, stirring sauces, peeling potatoes, and eating many cans of shitty vegetables. It is likely those memories provided me with an awareness of the value in sitting together and “breaking bread.”
It’s fun to see how mealtimes have evolved in my little family. There is now a table cloth, matching dishes and glassware for everyone. I rarely used can vegetables, but they were a good start. Now, I even light the occasional candle for extra special occasions — pretty fancy I know!
I still appreciate every single meal we share. Mealtimes with my family fill my heart and my belly!