Filipino family eating together - A rare occurrence for yours?

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Importance of family meals: With parents busy at work and kids busy with schools, families hardly eat together anymore. Read to find out why they should!

Eat together as a family

Eat together as a family

Importance of family meals: Why you should eat together

Picture the daily morning routine of a typical Filipino family eating together: You have the kids fighting with each other over the bathroom, mom’s preparing breakfast while hollering at the boys to “hurry up, or else,” sister is freaking out over her crumpled uniform, and the baby is giving her share to the bedlam by banging her cereal bowl on her high chair. To try to help, Dad has to rush to comfort the baby – it’s going to be another day in the office with tell-tale egg yolk stains on his shirt. Then one by one, the family members grab their plates or bowls to eat. “Eating together,” in this sense, is like eating alone in a crowd.

If parents do not put in conscious effort at finding ways for the family to have a regular time together, there is a grave danger of everyone slowly becoming strangers living in one roof.

It’s not unusual for mom and dad to come home late because of overtime or meetings at the rotary club, etc. The kids, on the other hand, also have to stay longer in school for after-class drama rehearsals or band practice, or group study sessions. While these reasons seem “excusable” because they don’t happen every day (and they come with very valid reasons), they could still contribute to the family becoming, well, strangers living under one roof.

Why is this happening?

There are a multitude of reason why this could be happening. Perhaps, things are just so hectic at school or work that everyone forgets that the home is not a school dorm where you just go to rest and prepare for another day outside.

Or perhaps everyone simply has lost track of their priorities. It is easy to get caught up in the rat race; and you would be surprised waking up one day realising that everyone drifted apart. And you ask yourself, “What happened?” The children’s grades are falling, they have gravitated to friends you don’t know (and worse, they could be on drugs, pre-marital sex, etc.) without you noticing.

Importance of meal times

One way of ensuring that there is constant flow of communication between all members of the family is to eat meals together. Sadly, this very important family activity is often neglected in today’s day and age.

We can’t begin to explain the importance of family meal time. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University reports that teens from families who almost never eat dinner together are more susceptible to use illegal drugs, smoke and drink.

Other studies cite healthier children, others report that children who share mealtime with the parents have fewer behavioural problems—in fact, a study conducted by the University of Michigan researchers showed that family mealtime is rated as more important in character-building than time spent studying or in church. Eating together brings back everyone to the true essence of what a family is: sharing, communicating, fun, and belonging—on a daily basis.

Make it a family tradition

While breakfast could be “rush hour” and lunch together could be impossible, dinner time is the best time for all family members to catch up on each other on a daily basis. If you’re not already regularly eating together start doing it once a week for a while and then every other day, and then every day. Be flexible – some days it may not be possible for everyone to be there.

Also ensure that the TV is switched off. Eating and watching TV at the same time makes this whole family tradition redundant.

Dinner doesn’t have to be gourmet; it doesn’t have to be a special dish. Being a work-at-home dad, one of my greatest pleasures is to be able to occasionally cook for the whole family. I occasionally ruin a dish and I become the butt of jokes which makes everyone laugh while eating; and while I try so hard to feign offended or hurt, everyone teases me more.

Dinner-time should always be treated like a reunion, a respite from the outside world, a moment of strengthening relationships, and a pleasant experience that should always be cherished by our children long after they have a family and kids of their own. This also follows that there should be strictly no sermons, scolding or fighting.

If you have any insights, questions or comments regarding the topic, please share them in our Comment box below.

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