Family dinner: The value of sharing meals

In a challenging world, family belonging provides a safe haven for parents and children alike. Family dinners not only satisfy our physical and emotional needs, but also offer a time and place to consciously teach our children the value of caring for others.

Sharing family dinners sets the stage for us to value our family relationships, rather than take them for granted. Consistently having dinner together as a family also keeps us in touch, allowing us to trouble-shoot problems in daily living, as well as keeping us abreast of our family members' activities and life experience. It is in the family group that we develop an ability to discuss, to express our opinions, to be ourselves and allow others to be themselves. We feel less alone in the world when we know there are people who love and care about us, no matter what we are going through.

The function of a family is to nurture the growth and development of each of its members. The overall "spirit" in a family is like the soil in a garden. Soil rich in needed elements supports growth, while earth anemic in necessary nutrients curtails blossom.

What is your family's spirit? Ask yourself these five questions:

1. How important is it for all family members to share dinner together regularly? If it is important to you, why is this time valued?

2. Does relating to other family members take priority over convenience?

3. Will you and your partner wait, and make special arrangements, in order to eat with the other?


4. Is it important to you to stay in touch with what other family members think and feel each day?

5. Do work and activities outside the family take priority?

Much is learned through the process of committing to eat together. It's important to feel that there is some sacred time where we come first to other family members, above and beyond any other interest or activity. We must "pull together" to "be" together. This creates true family spirit!

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