What Happened to The Family Table? Don't Miss Out!
Moms, what has happened to the family table? Does your family eat together regularly? (I don't mean Thanksgiving and Christmas). If not, you are really missing out!
"There's no replacement for the fellowship, learning and fun that happens around a family table."
So said Dr. Leila Denmark, the world's longest practicing physician. "The proper way of eating is getting to be a lost art. Many homes have changed their kitchens into snack bars with tall stools and eating becomes a short order restaurant type operation with each person giving the orders and mama or papa filling the orders. How different it is when the meals are prepared and placed on the table, with the family all seated at one time, and papa gives thanks to God for what they have to eat!"*
Hi, I’m Madia. I have eleven children and one of the greatest privileges of my life was to know Dr. Leila Denmark. She practiced pediatrics for over 75 years and was my mentor for 32 years.
I can hardly express how much she helped me, both with the children’s medical issues and family life challenges. I would love to share what she taught me with you.
The family table provides an opportunity for so many important dynamics. Don't let our fast food, screen-obsessed, activity-driven culture drag you into it's chaos. Slow down and get off the hamster wheel. Gather your family, sit down together and enjoy your family table!
A Family Table: the Axis of Home
Fellowship and Culture
The family table is a wonderful venue for developing, strengthening and enriching relationships. It should be a place for meaningful discussion and sharing daily experiences. What better setting for children to learn good table manners, courtesy in conversation, patience in sitting still and waiting their turn?
Since the beginning of time, the family table has been a context for instruction. Parents often shared stories from their past, life lessons and quizzed their children concerning school subjects or catechism questions. Mealtime is a great time to discuss current events and their impact on society.
"Families used to eat together. Then came the television and TV tables. People watched TV while they ate, instead of sitting around the table to share a meal. It can't ever be as good. There's nothing like a table to connect people and draw them together...The table is a wonderful place for a family meeting and a great school."*
Note: Our family often uses mealtime as an opportunity to discuss weekly schedules and logistics for upcoming events. Those discussions can be helpful unless they digress into a forum for grievances. Try to preserve mealtime for positive dialogue. There can be other settings reserved for controversial discussion.
Order and Health
Dr. Denmark was very much against the "grazing" that is encouraged by many health consultants nowadays. She did not believe snacking was healthy for the human digestive system. Instead, humans should eat three nutritious, simple meals a day, spaced 5 1/2 hours apart. This sensible routine brings order to home life and less heartburn!
"Children who eat between meals get potbellied, anemic, and sorry. Their stomachs never have a chance to empty, so they’re always hungry but never hungry enough to eat a decent meal. A hog will eat a lot and stretch out to rest until it digests its food. Then it will eat some more. Even a hog’s got enough sense to eat right. A cow, of course, has four stomachs so it can eat all day.
If children come to my clinic with potbellies and dry, thin hair, I always ask their mother if she feeds them between meals. If the mother says no, I check the soles of their shoes for crumbs. Finding crumbs means there is probably snack food strewn all over the house. Eating between meals is so chaotic. You see big potbellies on old people with the same eating patterns. They could be nice, neat people if they just ate three simple meals a day and stayed out of the doctor’s office.
Unless our eating habits are proper, our health cannot be good and if our health is not good, we are not happy. Table manners and customs may make the difference between a happy home and a home of confusion and poor health."*
Fun and Hospitality
The family table is the best place to show kindness and hospitality to others. Invite your extended family, friends and acquaintances who are lonely and need fellowship. It doesn't have to be a gourmet meal. Turn off all devices, sit down around the table, look at each others' faces and share simple, tasty food. Take a break from your troubles and responsibilities. This is a time for funny stories, reminiscing and gracious, encouraging words.
Gratitude and Reverence
The family table is a wonderful place to read the Bible, discuss spiritual truths, sing hymns and pray together.
Our food comes from God, the Creator of this world who rotates the seasons and causes crops to grow. It's most appropriate to show thanks and reverence to God when we gather to eat and secondarily, to those who have worked hard to provide the means to purchase and prepare the food. A "thank you Dad" or "thank you Mom for the delicious meal" means so much, both to the one who receives the thanks, but also the one who gives it.
" As a child I couldn't imagine not sitting down to breakfast with Papa before he went off to work.. A man who is willing to go out and put in a day of hard work to make a home and provide food for his family surely deserves a good breakfast and a word of thanks before leaving each morning. ..there's no better place to teach a child to be reverent than at a well-supervised eating table. " *
"How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house, your children like olive plants around your table. Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord."
*Dr. Leila Denmark
For more tips on family life and treating common childhood illnesses, read Dr. Denmark Said It!