It's no secret that eating meals all together as a family has incredible benefits to both parents and their children. Growing up, there were very few times that we didn't eat dinner together. Breakfast and lunch were a little different, but on weekends we routinely sat down and ate as a whole. Even now, although Isaac is a little guy who eats milk instead of table food, we set him in his chair and he sits with us as we eat. It is a time of connection and conversation. It is where relationships are formed and built... I mean, when I want to get to know a new friend, we meet up for lunch! While it takes some planning and ingenuity, parents who make it a priority to sit down to eat all together with their children are greatly rewarded. Research even states that it leads to:
- Increased family bonds
- Better adjusted children
- Decreased chances of obesity
- Decreased chances of alcohol and drug abuse
Plus, don't we all need just a few minutes during the day where we can turn off the world and concentrate on one another? For my perpetually plugged-in partner, it's a bit of an adjustment to put the rest of the world on pause, but he often makes it a point to ignore phone calls and texts while we're eating. It sends a very clear message to the other people at the table that they are in fact worthy of time. Maybe that's the key to all the positive research? When we put small things aside and make our people a priority, then our relationships with one another can really flourish. It's not always easy to organize schedules and plan life around family mealtimes, but the long-lasting rewards can outweigh the daily "stuff." I hope Jordan and I will always make it a goal as parents to sit down as a family for our meals.
I recently came across a set of mealtime prayers that John Piper has said he routinely recites with his family during their mealtimes. If these are good enough for Pastor Piper to use on a daily basis, then I shall certainly try them out for myself! They can be found on Desiring God, but I'd also like to share them here with you.
Our Father, every day you give
The food by which our bodies live.
For this we thank you from our heart,
And pray that as we this day start
You might allow our eyes to see
Your endless generosity.
And grant that when we thus are filled
We may do only what You've willed.
We're grateful Father for this hour,
To rest and draw upon your power,
Which you have shown in sun and rain,
And measured out to every grain.
Let all this food which You have made,
And graciously before us laid
Restore our strength for this next hour;
That we may have Your fullest power.
How faithful, Father, is Your care!
Again- as always -food is there.
Again you have set us before
A meal we pray will mean much more
Than single persons filled with food;
Let there be, Lord, a loving mood.
And as you make our bodies new,
Come now and feed our oneness too.