I am posting this as part of the Family Proclamation Celebration which is running from now until September 23. To learn more, click here.
Our kitchen table.
We looked everywhere to find the right table. I don't even want to recall how many furniture stores we visited. We would walk in, walk directly to the kitchen tables, and within 30 seconds we would walk back out - much to the chagrin of hungry salesmen. We weren't being picky or snobby - I take that back - we were being extremely picky and snobby. (I prefer the terms "discerning" or "particular".)
We wanted a kitchen table that was:
a. Round (So we could all see each and be equal at the table à la King Arthur)
b. Seats eight (Seven of us +gramma)
c. Wood (Wood never goes out of style)
d. Damage resistant coating (5 kids, meals, games, homework, etc.)
It turned out to be a much tougher challenge than we bargained for, but we finally found exactly what we were looking for.
So why the big hullaballoo about a table? Let me tell you: The kitchen table is the most important piece of furniture you own. What happens around that table will have more impact on your kids than anywhere else in the house. And no, I'm not making this up - evidence will follow.
There are time we sit around that table and talk as a family, and I will look and catch the eye of my EC and we will silently communicate to each other: "This is an important moment." And they are moments that would not have happened if we weren't sitting around our special table, sharing a meal.
How many of those moments have we missed because one kid is off here, the other is off there, or we are yelling at the Sonic guy that we want a LARGE tots?
Back in 2006, Time Magazine published an article "The Magic of the Family Meal." (Link below) the author used several studies to show that kids from homes that ate dinner together are healthier, happier and have better grades. Take a look - it is a great argument for taking a look at one of the sad societal changes that we have undergone.
It's one thing to have Time talk about it - but what do the experts say. I thought you'd never ask. The foremost experts on family relations in the world have spoken out on this subject consistently over the past decade. In fact, over the past 8 years, I have found 10 General Conference talks that mention family mealtimes.
So, to bless your lives, I have included quotes and links to talks given by General Authorities about dinnertime. The first two are from two of the greatest talks I have ever read in my entire life. (Seriously!)
"The number of those who report that their “whole family usually eats dinner together” has declined 33 percent. This is most concerning because the time a family spends together “eating meals at home is the strongest predictor of children’s academic achievement and psychological adjustment.” Family mealtimes have also been shown to be a strong bulwark against children’s smoking, drinking, or using drugs. There is inspired wisdom in this advice to parents: what your children really want for dinner is you."
Elder Dallin H. Oaks
"It takes courage and willpower to avoid overscheduling
so that your family can be home for dinner."
Elder Larry R. Lawrence
"Dad’s home was a house of learning. He said at his father’s funeral that he had never learned a gospel principle at a Church meeting that he hadn’t already learned in his own home. The Church was a supplement to his home. My home was a house of order. It was of utmost importance (in spite of many hectic schedules) for us to be together for breakfast and dinner. Mealtime meant more than just refueling. It was a crucial time for nourishing spirits as well as bodies."
President Susan Tanner
"Much of the teaching and relationship building in families takes place in those brief, unplanned moments during our daily routine. The dinner table is a place to connect with each other, share our daily activities, listen to and encourage each other, and even laugh together. I know laughter lightens the load. Dear mothers and fathers, make a regular mealtime for the people you love."
President Bonnie D. Parkin
"With that in mind, when we sit down at the dinner table, is our whole family there? I remember as a young man asking permission to play baseball through dinnertime. “Just put my meal in the oven,” I said to my mother. She responded, “Robert, I really want you to take a break, come home, be with the family for dinner, and then you can go out and play baseball until dark.” She taught all of us that where family meals are concerned, it’s not the food but the family interaction that nourishes the soul."
Elder Robert E. Hales
"The Magic of the Family Meal" - Time Magazine
So I dare you: Count up the number of times your entire family sat down for dinner together this past week, and try to improve on it next week. If life is just to busy, maybe it's time to re-evaluate.