Monday, May 22, 2006The Family Meal
I recently read something about how families who experience regular, home-cooked meals will be more securely adjusted than those who often eat out. Despite my best efforts I was unable to google up this article but found a related one instead that laments the "disappearing dinner hour".
It's interesting how we, as Americans, pride ourselves on being able to afford eating out much more frequently now than in years past. Certainly some of the freedoms/comforts afforded by financial growth is a positive thing. But in this particular case, it comes at a high cost. While the average American eats out 4.2 of his meals per week, other depressing statistics mirror this shift to convenience and expediency in our meals. It is an unfortunate loss as children psychologically need the routine and consistency of homemade meals in their lives.
Whether you spend hours slaving over the stove or simply open up another box of Hamburger Helper is beside the point here (another topic for another day): there is something satisfying to be said about a mother can easily answer a child who runs indoors, breathless from a game of tag: "What's for dinner, Mom?" Even more provocative are the subconscious effects of the smells that inevitably fill the home while a meal is being prepared. The harried announcement of "Let's just go to McDonalds" will undoubtedly bring shouts of glee from little ones, but the repercussions of this becoming a habit can be grave indeed. Routine is critical for children. Of course, eating out isn't to be entirely shunned. It has it's proper place as a special treat or when traveling, etc. But by no means should it be a norm in trying to create a stable family life. We must do our best to reclaim our meals, our traditions, our consistency... our very health and well-being of the home.
-Ellie writes from Oak Harbor, WA