Many families are losing the habit to reunite for meals because of the intense routine of daily life. At our grandparent’s time, this tradition occurred naturally. It was common for the relatives to sit at the table for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But, in general, the families’ dynamic has changed: parents work – most of the time in not compatible hours – and kids share their time between school, homework, and extra-curricular activities, such as a language course and sports i.e. there is a short time for family life.
And what is lost with this?
Let’s think about the other side of this reality: what you get with the habit of eating with family?
A project carried out by the University of Harvard, in the United States of America, analyzed academic resources from the last 15 years that had as theme family meals.
In the analysis, the first positive factor identified was the quality of the home meal. The food prepared at home enables people to consume more nutrients and fewer calories, which helps for a significant low content in obesity.
It was also noticed that at the families that get together to do, at least, one meal daily, their kids have more capacity of reading, more resilience, a better academic performance, and a larger vocabulary. Additionally, it was noted fewer indexes on depression and the use of illicit substances.
According to Lynn Barendsen, executive director of the Family Dinner Project, from Harvard, “many factors are behind this, but mostly these benefits are due to bonds made during meals. It’s a time to create family traditions, to enjoy each other company, and just be together.”
A personal effort for the collective benefit
But what if the great “villain” of this story is the restrict time that each member of the family has for living at home? The goodwill and creativity must be put on action aimed at a common good.
If there isn’t a possibility for daily meetings for a meal in a group, routines more flexible can be implemented; one example is to dedicate the Sunday meal to get the family together. However, it doesn’t matter if everyone is on a table, lunching, but each one is focusing on other things: one person staring at a laptop, another person watching tv, and the other one holding their fork with one hand while the other hand is on the smartphone.
Tip: meals must provide moments of pleasant dialogue, of appreciation of food’s flavor, besides being a valuable opportunity to enjoy living as a family.
The value of family
More than feeding in a group, the family also has to be aware of the fundamental needs of the development of sublime values that, like a profitable seed, will provide great fruits to society.
In the article "The Great Family Called Humanity", Brother Paiva writes:
I respect the opinion of those who predict the destruction of the family. However, I question the reasoning of those who affirm that its value in strengthening society has reached the end. Society does not exist without the family. . . .
Is the family coming to an end? No. It is just evolving, as a natural process. And within all the confusion of the passing of the millennium, as incredible as it may appear to the more hasty, the family is searching, though awkwardly, for Something, which one day it will discover to be God—with or without a name—, who is Love and without which the individual cannot subsist with dignity, since, wanting to or not, he is a part of Him. . . .
The family would only end if Love no longer existed. And Love will never end since it is for the spirit what oxygen is for the body.