Eating together is important although it is not always an easy thing to do especially in single parent households. Distractions abound, but eating together is a vital part of reconnecting for both the parent and children as well as for sibling groups.
Even in two parent households today, we see distractions caused by technology. Often every family member has a cell phone sometimes with phone, texting, gaming, and internet capabilities. Parents are taken away from children by work, household responsibilities, and the longing for adult conversation. Children are taken away by electronics, television, video games, and handheld devices. Even good things like homework, sports, music, and church and school activities all infringe on the reconnecting that has been absolutely vital to all families regardless of the time or place.
Single parent households often have even greater distractions. One parent may hold down multiple jobs, but still have greater financial worries. He or she is responsible for all bill payment and family paperwork including court appointments, taxes, and more. Children are often preoccupied wondering whose weekend it is or if they left their homework in the other parent’s car in addition to “normal” concerns.
Eating together is important however because it provides a vital connection time for families. Committing to being together to reconnect, even if it is only for 20 minutes each day is especially helpful for several reasons. Here are five.
1. Face to Face Time – It can be easy to forget that other family members are real thinking, feeling individuals when our needs and desires seem so all-encompassing. Coming face -to-face with others makes each member less of an abstraction and more real.
2. Conflict Resolution – All families experience conflict. Sometimes the desire to avoid conflict causes us to isolate ourselves or each other. There are few ways to avoid a family member who has upset you when you are seated across the table from him and knowing everyone must sit together forces us to humbly (or angrily) face those who have hurt us. Either way, coming together every day does not allow conflict to brew for long.
3. Working as a Team – “Pass the milk – please.” When you’re seated around a small table, teamwork and cooperation go hand in hand. Children learn that polite ways of asking for things works better than demanding ways, and, even if for completely selfish reasons, they see that working together benefits everyone.
4. Opportunity to Open Up – The world can be a rough place. Sitting around a meal gives children and parents the opportunity to open up about their day in a less threatening manner. Eyes can be averted politely while uncomfortable topics are shared. Thoughts can be gathered before rushed responses are made. Parents and children can learn a lot about the hopes, dreams, joys, and fears of each other over a shared meal.
5. Modeling Prayer – Prayerfully thanking the Lord for the gift of food and fellowship reminds children and single parents how fortunate we are even when life seems overwhelming. Praying together teaches children how to pray and gives them the freedom to experiment with their own words of gratitude to the Lord.
Please check out my future posts, Minding Your Manners at Meals and Ways to Reconnect Over the Dinner table.
I hope you make a habit of eating together every day.
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