Family Dinners: Eat, Talk, Love
In her new book, "The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time,"
my dear friend
This idea really hits home with me. Literally. Growing up in
Just as endless were the conversations my mother, my sister, Agapi, and I would have while seated at the table (my parents divorced when I was 9). The three of us would talk about anything and everything -- girlfriends, schoolwork, classmates, teachers and, of course, boys. We'd discuss personal problems, our hopes and dreams -- and our fears. We'd debate current events, share books we'd just read or movies and plays we'd just seen.
Our kitchen table was where my views of the world began to be formed. And there was something very comforting in the pace of these family dinners. They were leisurely; we weren't rushing -- quickly wolfing down the meal and hurrying off to someplace we'd rather be. Indeed, there was no place we'd rather be than sitting at that table -- eating, talking, laughing or tearing up. It was the opposite of our fast food culture. And even when the meals where short (there was homework to be done, after all!), they weren't rushed. There were no BlackBerrys to check, no TV blaring in the background (or hypnotizing us in the foreground). We were all very much present. (As my mother would later say, "I abhor multitasking.")
My mother's intimate connection to food -- feeding for her was a primal way of showing love -- even extended to the way she talked about food. She'd get upset if we ever said we were "grabbing something to eat." "Food is not something to grab," she'd say. "It is something to savor."
Indeed, as Laurie writes in "The Family Dinner," "Dinner spreads love. That is one of the great motivations for starting and maintaining this ritual, and it's one of the main reasons why, nine times out of 10, people grin ear-to-ear when recalling childhood family dinners. Food pioneer
The importance of family dinners, of taking the time to come together and eat while processing the day, was something I knew I wanted to carry on when I had my own children. So, even if I had dinner plans for the night, I'd have an early pre-dinner dinner with my girls. That remained the best time to talk about our days -- and especially to hear about their days.
Something magical happens when you are talking over a meal -- instead of making a specific point of meeting in order to talk. Your whole body relaxes. The food has a truth-serum effect. Things come up and are dealt with that wouldn't have come up anywhere else.
And the family dinner is a wonderful place for teaching and learning. Dinner table learning doesn't come from didactic teaching . . . pass the feta cheese, please . . . it's a more natural form of learning . . . more avgolemono soup? . . . learning that's unforced and organic. It's a great way to learn how your kids see the world, and to let them discover how you see things, too.
So gather your family around the table and reclaim the family dinner. Make family meals "sacred time," as Laurie says. "Time to purposely be a family. Time that belongs to you and your family; time that is so important no one will dare mess with it."
Let the eating -- and the talking -- begin.
Available at Amazon.com:
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Copyright © 2010 Arianna Huffington. All rights reserved.