Thursday, 12 July 2012

Good Food And Happy Families

Source for this image here.

Isn't this a sweet picture?  It is by a painter called Harold Harvey, who painted it in 1909.  I think it is probably oil on canvas, but as it is quite dark it is difficult to see.   It minds me of the sweet days, so long ago now, when our cubs were wee babies in bonnets and bootees!

Even when our cubs were babies, we always ate our meals as a family.  We sat together at the table, even when our children were too small to actually sit.  For us, it was just a continuation of what we had experienced ourselves as children, so we had no other expectation than that we would carry this habit on once we were married and had children of our own.  Even today, with our children grown and studying at college, we still dine together at least once a day - usually twice - and at the weekends, three times.  For us it is a time that we all look forward to and enjoy - a time for fellowship and sharing - good food and closeness, and a time to celebrate the blessings that our Father God has brought us -

" ... every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness" (Isaiah 55: 1 - 2).

However, it is not the case for every family - today in our newspaper, there was a short article about the decline of family mealtimes, and how the tradition of sitting down together to eat as a family unit is becoming less and less the norm, and more commonly now, families will eat separately - and not necessarily all at the same time.  The study that reported this information pointed to this decline as the main cause of the deterioration of manners (not just table manners) in children, and concluded that it was vitally important that families share their meals at the table, for many reasons.  Some of the negative results of not dining together as a family were observed as -

Poor communication skills
Unhealthy eating habits
Increased and inappropriate use of social media
Lack of co-operation and integration between family members

The article also featured a "checklist" of suggestions for encouraging better manners in children - though by the time they are old enough to be sitting at a table and feeding themmselves independently, if they have not learned proper table manners already, it is probably going to be an uphill struggle to instill them, because the early years, when children are more able to learn by example, and more willing to copy their parents and be less rebellious, is the time when good eating habits and social skills should be developed.

Papa Bear and I have been talking about writing some more generalised posts about child training and education in the near future, but we both felt that this was an issue that highlights very well, the importance of prioritising the role of the family in helping to model to our children the way that, as God's servants, they are expected to behave.  Without good examples from father and mother, there is no hope that a child will be able to learn to conduct itself acceptably.  It is the responsibilty of the parents to ensure that their children learn - from birth onwards - how to behave in a way that is pleasing not just to them, but to God also.  And where better to start, than at mealtimes? 

I am going to write more about the importance of good food and how it impacts on our lives in tomorrow's post - we are going to be changing our menu a little in the next few weeks, and I shall share the details of just how - and why - tomorrow.  We are going to be trying something a little bit different, just for a while!  Nothing big or which involves fancy recipes or expensive and unusual ingredients - just simple, but wholesome, with as always, a focus on it being frugal but tasty and enjoyable.  And most importantly, food that we enjoy sharing - as a family.  We feel very strongly that sharing and enjoying our meals together as we have always done - and shall continue to do - is certainly something that has helped to tighten the bonds that we have to one another, and which enables us to rejoyce in our love for each other, and for our Father God.

"And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house". (Luke 10: 7).