Eating Together is Healthy and Blessed
Submitted by Fr. Chuck on Fri, 03/11/2011 - 12:16pm.
In the Hispanic community, family is a priority. Hispanics pride themselves on valuing family as the most important part of their lives. Many people make tremendous sacrifices for their family, and they are most troubled when problems divide their families.
Today Jesus teaches us to think about what is most important in our lives. It is not money nor food nor clothing. He urges us to seek first the “Kingdom of God” and all else will be added.
Our families are under constant attack in our society. Divorce and separation, violence and infidelity, individualism (me first, biggest, as a friend used to say) and materialism. Even systems of communication, such as television and computers tend to limit instead of enhance our communication in the family. Even our heavy work schedules allow us little time to spend with the family.
If we want to strengthen our families and assure that God reigns in them, we have to work to make it happen. We have to sacrifice to be together. One way to accomplish this is for the family to eat a meal together frequently if not every day.
It is not important what we eat together but that we take the time, an hour of our time, to eat together, husband and wife and children. The stories, jokes, laughter that we share at the family table help members of the family to connect better and to keep open the channels of communication. At the table we learn understanding and patience, how to listen and to share, how to respect and support one another, how to serve and be courteous.
Astudy by the National Center of Substance Addictions and Abuse found that children and teens who eat together in family have a lesser probability of smoking and using drugs.
The study also showed that children who eat with their family demonstrate better academic performance in school. Teens who eat in family 5 to 7 times a week have a 50% greater chance of obtaining A’s and B’s in school and are more likely to enter and complete a college education. So if we want our children to grow up to be healthy and happy and successful, we need to organize meals where all can attend.
Frequently, families leave the television on during meals. As a result, people’s attention is diverted from the family to the television. We should not need a television to entertain us at meals. Rather we need to ask one another about our experiences of the day and our opinions about different matters.
Sometimes some family members finish eating before others and then they get up and leave the table before others. This shows a lack of respect. Even if someone finishes quickly, they should stay until others finish. The meal is not only about consuming food but about nourishing ourselves with our conversation.
Sometimes schedules do not permit everyone to be at the evening meal. Some people work at night and cannot attend. In this situation, other meals need to be planned when all or most everyone can be present. Even if there is only one meal together each week, the effort made to have the meal together sends a strong signal to children that family is important and sharing life together at meals is vital.