Family dinners have lost the appeal and value it deserves within families across the Globe. More so in developed countries, the family structure is distracted by social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and other socially disrupting technologies.
We no longer appreciate the opportunity to sit as a family around the dinner table to enjoy a home-cooked meal. Of course, I’m referring to any family, no matter the size. There’s just no appetite to dig into a dish you have spent time making.
There are many reasons why our family traditions are under threat. At least a few of my concerns, observations, and opinions.
Homelife has utterly changed over the past 3 to 4 decades, and not because women joined the workforce, but because we eat fast food, TV dinners, allow mobile devices at the dinner table, and eat around the TV.
We work long hours to keep up with the Joneses, so we can buy new gadgets, spread our “perfect” life on social media, take expensive holidays, and attempt to live a celebrity lifestyle with fancy shit. At what cost?
Our families are “controlled” by work, school, afterschool activities, and events that take us away from our homes. Both parents are working, and single parents struggle to find time to manage the family alone. For example, how can we find time to grocery shop and prepare food when we don’t have any available minutes?
Buying a ready-made meal is much easier. It is hard to find time to cook a meal during the week, mainly because we work 10-12 hours a day, yet we wake up at 5.30 am to get our kids ready for school, prepare lunches, squeeze in some home gym, go to work, clean, cook, and be social. It’s tough being an adult 🙂
The evolution of family dinners
Since man (covers both genders) walked the earth, food has been vital for the survival of humankind. It is a fairly obvious statement as, without food, we would perish.
Archaeologists have found cave drawings older than 64,000 years depicting animals that roamed the world and how people hunted. These drawings tell stories about how our ancestors harvested and hunted to live. When they drew something on the cave walls, it had to be an essential story, and I’m confident that the illustrations were used to educate younger generations. This knowledge is core to our survival and social interactions.
Gathering, hunting and preparing food is the sole purpose in order to survive.
Initially, food gathering and hunting were a necessity. People spent hours and days collecting enough food for their little clan.
Families and tribes gathered around the fire once some bright person invited that and participated in preparing the meal. Then, they celebrated and appreciated the food they had collected and thanked their gods for the animals they successfully killed.
The elders told stories to the younger generations. Kids listened intently to advice from elders and respected the decisions made. It shows that family dinners are an essential part of the upbringing of our kids, as we teach the importance of cooking and appreciating food.
Food brings us together. We consume food as a family, a group of friends, or a community. It is our way of life.
A modern curse
Fast forward a few millennia, and sweet lord has things changed – and not for the better.
We have easy access to food, but millions are still starving. People have lost knowledge of harvesting, hunting, and cooking. Big corporations are controlling the food supply. We want more for less. Quality and nutrition are the first to be sacrificed.
Families can swing by the grocery store to pick up food or meals. You can buy fruits no longer in season, and aisles longer than a school bus are stuffed full of snacks—ideally looking vegetables. Borders and distances are no obstacles to getting food from around the world. The only problem, the nutritional benefits are removed, and the flavors are artificial.
It’s tragic, primarily as we produce tons of food waste in developed countries and are constantly questioning the appearance of the produce. We want the perfect tomato or right-shaped carrot and happily discard the odd and more natural-looking produce.
In theory, the convenience of shopping and the magnitude of choices should allow us to focus on the essential aspects of life; family, work, hobbies, and a plethora of school events. It is fantastic, but at what cost?
Ready-made meals fill our bodies with toxic that contain too many unknown chemicals and additives, but they are easy to make and taste great. But unfortunately, the taste is artificial and makes your brain believe it is incredible and full of healthy nutrition.
I believe it has slowly created a rift in our family traditions and values.
antisocial dinner spots
As TVs started to roll into many homes, they also introduced the first steps toward destroying our family traditions. Families were eating dinners in front of the TVs, trying to absorb the latest technological wonder and experience TV shows, news, and other time-eating programs.
The concept of TV dinners followed the technical evolution, and soon after, the meals served on planes in the 1940s suddenly became available to the regular consumer. As a result, the speed with which we can prepare a meal has drastically reduced and has nutritional value.
Imagine the drastic change that just hit most families; TV and space food.
In my opinion, the introduction of TV dinners started a rift in our family structures where we spend less time with our families and are more focused on an imaginary world.
And technologies have only widened that gap during family dinners.
- Kids eat dinner in their room, in front of the computer
- Family members sit with their faces deep in a trance, scrolling through their social media
- Parents sit around the kitchen counter reading news
Every person in the family has some gadget. TVs are in the living room, family room, bedrooms, dining area, and kitchen. As a result, families spend less time together despite being under the same roof.
We are seeking ‘likes’ for something we want people to think we are doing. It is just a charade. It’s a false sense of popularity, whereas we should seek validation from our family and friends instead.
Too many negative comments and statements, but what will we do about this?
Where do we go from here?
We don’t talk much as a family about school or work days. We don’t spend enough time cooking healthier meals while chatting and teaching kids how to prepare food. We must address this, and it is our responsibility to make the necessary changes.
Some families have already made the changes, but too many haven’t. It is a social and cultural challenge that has been brewing for decades. But a challenge we can overcome is much more accessible than we think.
I want to share some golden nuggets that have worked for our family and hope it might inspire you to make small changes to:
- Strengthen our families today
- Re-introduce home-cooking and family dinners
- Safeguard our future generations
Cooking delicious meals is essential and can be a fun experience. However, we must teach our kids how to make simple meals and show them that sitting down around the dinner table is okay to laugh, eat, and talk without phones and technology distractions.
We need to bring back family and friends gatherings, sitting around the dinner table or any table as long as we can sit undisturbed and enjoy the company of others, chatting, laughing, listening, and eating good food.
Let’s get started
Well, it starts with you and your family. Then we extend it to the circle of friends. Soon, our small ripples of healthy changes will encourage others to change too. We can do this!
You need to be willing to make adjustments and slowly introduce family dinners. I know you can do this!
It does require a fair amount of faith too. We need faith to tie friends and family together and give us strength. Of course, some might smirk at the notion of mentioning religion. But, nothing is embarrassing in seeking strength in the scriptures or other preferred theological readings.
I’ve had many successes with praying and seeking guidance during my illness. There’s a level of comfort in knowing that someone is listening, which makes life more manageable at times, knowing that we will be ok in the end.
Faith, Family, Friends and Awesome food is the recipe for a long and healthy life!
More to come about The Viking Heart Journey in a future post, explaining what I’ve done to combat these destructive behaviors, improve our healthy eating, and spend more time with my family.