Are family dinners important? What about empty nesters? Families of one? Do family dinners protect against the effects of teen drug use and cyberbullying? Writer Melodie Miller Davis in her recent blog post “How do you keep family dinner?” got me thinking about recent research on the topic.
In her post, she refers to Columbia Casa Family Day, a national initiative to remind parents that they have the “power to help keep their kids substance free.” Cornell University researchers also have discovered that shared meals may help prevent eating disorders. An article in Time asserts that teens benefit from interaction with their families and find security in the shared, predictable ritual of family mealtime possibly preventing early drug use and the effects of cyber-bullying. However, there is also research that claims such effects are overstated or not verifiable.
Whatever the case may be, the faster the pace of our lives and the more insane world events become, the more I long for the sweet spaces of serenity that sharing family meals can provide.
The Longeneckers and the Metzlers, two strands of my family line were oblivious of any such research but carried on the ritual of family meal time together. Here is a post from the Metzler gatherings, often picnic style.
Family dinners can be very large as seen here in Grandma and Aunt Ruthie’s house with twenty, mostly Bossler Mennonite Church friends, gathered around their huge dining table.
Whether large or small, indoors or out, dinners require preparation. My sister Jean and her family provide some of the “raw material” from a shared meal at Mother’s house.
Years ago if we didn’t visit Pennsylvania, I shared holiday meal making with my sister Janice, who lives just 2 ½ miles from us.
And then the over-flow table with the kids . . .
After awhile, our children began entertaining us, first in Chicago where all four worked, earned graduate degrees and started a family.
Then when they moved to Florida, two years apart, their meal making continued with Fourth of July at Joel’s house . . .
. . . and Thanksgiving at Crista’s house in her bright sun room.
Any excuse for a party! Besides birthdays, Fourth of July can be a cause for celebration too.
One of us, who loved everything about entertaining from meal preparation to talking and eating around the table, will be missing this holiday season and every meal in between, our Mother Ruth Longenecker, hostess extraordinaire.
How have family dinners marked your family history?
Coming next: # 1 in a series “Moments of Discovery”