What’s for dinner?

My customer – he happens to be my wealthiest – and I were talking about raising kids.

“Frequency of family dinners is the number one predictor of SAT scores,” he said. “I used to make each of my kids talk for five minutes every night around the table.”

As school starts and activities begin, I am reminded how nearly extinct the regular family gathering is. I am also reminded how critical it is to the family system.

Disconnection runs rampant in our time. “Lonely together” typifies our technologically-networked yet emotionally-fragmented culture. Young people seek meaning from social networks. The biological network is for chauffeuring and financing, they think.

But a creative designer put us in biological groups to meet biological needs. Frequent family meals satisfy both physical and emotional needs.

Bellingham, Washington, minister Matthew McCoy has studied the role of eating habits in personal formation:

“Daily rhythms, when looked at on any individual day, seem almost insignificant. But when taken over the course of a lifetime they are a massive part of how our identities, and thus our ethics, are formed.

“What we eat demonstrates who we think we are and how we relate to each other, to all living things, to science and to God. I can say whatever I like about what I believe, but when it is dinner time all can see if I am telling the truth.”

Over the years, I’ve fed my kids their fair share of chicken tenders on a sports bleacher. We’ve consumed hot dogs on the way to practices and plays. I’ve even accidentally left a fast food pizza in the trunk of my car for two weeks (with little decomposition, I might add – what does that tell you about the potency of modern food preservatives???).

But our hearts are really hungering for relationship and community. Past the initial revulsion to work, parents and kids alike want to contribute to the planning, preparing and putting away of the family meal. Food always tastes better when we work for it.

I’ve noticed a cumulative effect to family meals. The more you have, the better they get. All members – even the littlest – learn their chores and build proficiency. Conversation habits improve. Interruptions decline. Respect increases.

Controlling the pace of life is a great challenge for modern families. Committing to family meals at home is like swimming upstream.

“Many other demands must be met in a day,” McCoy says. “The schedule is so full, the food budget is so small, and exhaustion is an ever present companion. Besides, our hunger is just so relentless that trying to maintain attentiveness is to start something that has no end.”

But, as they say, where there’s a will, there’s a way. One father of four active teens made breakfast the family meal, rising early to make it hot. Another mother gathers her ducklings for dessert after an active evening.

“I make us all sit down and look at each other for ten or fifteen minutes. It’s small but it makes a big difference,” she said.

Physicians will tell you: Many of our physical ailments have emotional roots, and many of our mental ailments affect us physically. We desperately need answers to our questions.

Like an old Bible, if we’d just dust it off, the dining table likely has answers. For the SAT and for life.

Follow Kevin Thompson at http://www.kwt.info.

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4 Responses to “What’s for dinner?”


  1. 1 Susan Allen September 18, 2015 at 10:00

    Excellent article Kevin!

    Susan (Susie) Allen

    Texas Heritage Bank

    1208 S. Main

    Boerne, Texas 78006

    Direct Line 830-815-1054

    Bank 830-249-3955

    Fax 830-249-3988

  2. 2 jessestroup September 22, 2015 at 12:29

    Ohhhh!  Kevin,  This is a great one.  It makes me want to do cartwheels in the clouds.  I am so proud of you.  Keep speaking the truth in love and doing it.  Jesse  Jesse R. Stroup Director of Spiritual Care Lifeline Chaplaincy 1926 Chattanooga Pl. #B Dallas, TX 75235 jessestrouplive@yahoo.com

  3. 3 Jennifer Wyle October 14, 2015 at 23:00

    Great stuff! We try to eat dinner together every night, I think it’s good for our family!


  1. 1 What’s for Supper? | Lifeline Chaplaincy Trackback on October 30, 2015 at 00:34
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