Why the Family Table Saves Communities
“The table is the place where identity is born-a place where the story of our lives is retold, reminded and relived.” Leonard Sweet
60 years ago, the average dinner time was 90 minutes. Today it is less than 12 minutes.
If the table is a place to discover ourselves through check-ins, family stories and healthy debate, then 12 minutes a couple days of week may not be enough to develop a strong sense of “self” in our children. Instead, we default to letting our kids discover who they are through social media, their friends, sports and through the mayhem of weekday activities.
In an age where we depend more on digital services than we do on our community, it should come as no surprise that we have never felt more disconnected from one another. In fact, Loneliness and Isolation is officially an epidemic in the United States.
Maybe you’ve felt the effects of disconnect. A nagging feeling, a pang of guilt, a longing for something different….You know things are moving along way too fast but you’re not exactly sure how to stop it.
- Curbside pickup over talking with the butcher.
- Texting over a phone call.
- Paper plates over glass dishes.
- Google over going to the library.
- Peloton over biking in the park.
- Screen time over reading books.
These things aren’t bad in themselves, but they do keep us from experiencing connection in the way we humans were created to experience it; through our sense of touching, seeing, smelling, hearing and tasting.
The family table is the perfect way to engage our senses and to spark connection. It is where we see each other eye to eye and hear the clinks of forks scraping glass plates and the shuffling of chairs on the floor. It’s where we smell the cheesy casserole that just came out of the oven and maybe big brother who just got in from football practice. At the dinner table, there are little voices interrupting and inappropriate laughter and even some arguing. It is the place we fill our bellies with tasty, comforting foods. The place that reminds us that tomorrow will be ok because we aren't alone. We have each other.
The family table is in fact, a basic building block of our communities and if it disappears…the crumbling of civilization will not be too far behind.
Okay…so maybe I’m oversimplifying and over exaggerating the dire effects of not eating together, but consider these statistics:
According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, kids and teens who share family dinners three or more times per week:
- Are less likely to be overweight
- Are more likely to eat healthy food
- Perform better academically
- Are less likely to engage in risky behavior (drugs, alcohol, sexual activity)
- Have better relationships with their parents
At the table, we remind our kids where they come from in hopes of paving the way for their future. We pass down our stories and talk about light stuff, heavy stuff and everything in between.
Let’s not be too quick to give table time up because of hectic schedules or because cooking isn't your thing. Families eating together just might save our civilization, after all. Or at least help you raise happy and whole-hearted humans.
Mustard Seed Seasonings is here to help you make weeknight dinners happen with easy recipes, Dinner is Done Guides (Grab a sample here) and inspiration to spark a little conversation at your dinner table.
To read more on the relevance of the family table, read Family Dinner Statistics.
Grab a Signature Seasonings Setand get one month of weeknight dinners free.