Voices: Lana Richmond on solving problems at the dinner table
By LANA RICHMOND
Have you ever heard the saying "The family that prays together stays together"? What about the family that eats together? I am not talking about the family that goes to the drive-through or the family that runs into the local pizza place before the kid's game.
I am referring to the family that defies modern times and sits at the dinner table. I know, it sounds crazy. Kitchen tables are meant to sit around? You mean they aren't just meant for homework? It seems odd to me, but most modern families say "We don't have the time to sit down and have a meal together."
Family dinners are supposed to be the place where problems are solved; kids confess what they did in school or moms and dads talk about work. Family dinner is where kids talk about homework, the game or the dance. Family dinner is where siblings make fun of each other, throw food or fight and get into trouble. Family dinner is where you play a prank on your sibling and they laugh so hard milk comes out of their nose, and then Dad gets mad. Family dinner is the place you beg Mom and Dad if you can go to the party this weekend because all "the cool kids" are going. Family dinner is where you discuss your Halloween costume, your Christmas list, your birthday plans or even the heartache of your first breakup.
What happened to us, as a society, that family dinners are no longer important? Is it the kids' sports? Gymnastics? Swimming? What? Why did we lose the emphasis on the importance of gathering around the table? It doesn't have to be spectacular. I would bet that any kid, given time, would place much more value on a family dinner of PB&Js and carrot sticks over a drive-through dinner. That is, provided the "family dinner" consisted of real family time. Not texting at dinner, not reading the paper at dinner, not checking your appointments from your smartphone.
I believe that most of society's problems can be solved at the dinner table. Think about it. Have you sat down to a meal with someone and not had a civil conversation? Well, maybe some of you have, but not often. There is something so pure about sharing a meal, passing the bread and using your manners that results in civility. How can you hate someone you share a meal with? How can you not work out an issue with a dinner partner? You can't. That is why family dinners are so important. The content of the meal isn't important. The content of the relationship is.
Lana Richmond, who has lived in the Champaign area for about 25 years, is an administrator in health care. She is married and has two grandchildren, with one on the way. You can follow her blog at http://www.randomlana.net.