Family meals have such a vital role in the transmission of our faith, our values, and our culture that we cannot afford to skip them. We are all too busy, but this is one activity that must not be sacrificed because of our schedules.
Family Meals or Command Central
The Bennett kitchen might be called Command Central.
Fifteen-year-old Jarod dug in the refrigerator. He muttered to himself, “I can’t find anything in here,” as he pulled out a bowl of leftover mac and cheese. He looked around the corner as the front door slammed. “Hey, Sis.”
Brianne came into the kitchen frantically typing a message on her phone. She looked up at her younger brother. “I’m supposed to be at play practice, and I’m starved.”
“Good luck in that fridge.”
Brianne pulled open the veggie drawer. “I wish there was a salad already made.” She filled a zippered bag with carrots. “Maybe these will do for now. Where are Mom and Dad?”
Mouth full and fork suspended in the air, Jarod mumbled, “Beats me.”
Both kids looked up as they heard the door from the garage open. “Hi, kids. Who’s home?”
“Here.” The greeting came from a mouth full of mac and cheese.
“Me too.” Brianne headed down the hallway to kiss her mom goodbye. “Gotta go. Play practice.”
“Be careful. See you tonight.” Deandra looked in the kitchen. “Has Dad called?”
What Happens in the Absence of Family Meals?
Most households with teens and working parents meet each other coming and going. However, research shows that kids benefit from having family meals together. Several positive aspects are healthier meals, closer families, and fewer problems for the kids. But what if those shared family times are missing?
Look back to the story that began this article. Suppose Jared came home from school worrying about the pressure he was experiencing to go to an unchaperoned party. In the command-central-style kitchen where he ate his mac and cheese, no one slowed down long enough for him to talk about what was going on.
It takes a period of small talk before a person can speak what’s on his or her heart. The chances are high that Jared will retreat to his room where he will discuss the party with his friends. Peers will try to talk him into going.
He may decide to go without telling his parents. That would be a missed opportunity for them to listen to and guide their son. And isn’t that what family meals should be? A time to hear our kids and have some influence on their decisions?
Making Family Meals Work
If you are parenting small children, remember that starting a tradition or habit of family meals is easier when children are young. If the meals are enjoyable with lots of laughter slipped into the guidance, they will want to continue them as they get older.
In another blog, we’ll look at ways to make family meal time work in busy households.