The Dinner Hour

October 22, 2014

We hear so many opinions about why the foundation of the family is disintegrating, that I think I’ll add mine to the mix.

When I was growing up, dinner was a sacred time. I don’t mean sacred in a religious context, but sacred as in everyone came to the table when dinner was served, and dinner wasn’t served until everyone was seated. No excuses.

Sacred as in no one was allowed to talk on the telephone during dinner and no one left the table before everyone was finished. It didn’t matter if we had a big exam the next day or had to turn in a term paper the next day, we stayed. Again, no excuses.

Maybe the fact that there was only one breadwinner in the household made it easier for all of us to eat dinner together, or maybe it was because we had very strict rules for the proper protocol for the dinner hour, but I can’t ever remember being allowed to be late for dinner or allowed to leave the table before everyone else was ready to leave.

Then, too, there was a certain conversational protocol during dinner. We talked about school, family concerns, politics, finances, and business. I heard more about stocks and bonds and running a large corporation at the dinner table in my youth than I ever did after I left home.

Today’s dinner hour is a far cry from the dinner hour of my youth. For one thing, many households have multiple wage earners and they all have different schedules. For another thing, young and old alike, sit with their cell phones on the table and they seem more concerned with them, than they are with the other people at the table.

I wish I could say it was today’s children who have made dinner table discussions a thing of the past, but I think it’s more a case of monkey see, monkey does.

When the adults don’t treat the dinner hour as something special, and they lack the self-discipline to turn off their own cell phones for the duration of this one meal, we can’t expect the children to do differently.

If anything gave us a feeling of family, it was sitting around the dinner table and talking to each other. It’s the one thing that seems to be missing in today’s family.

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