When I hear the term ‘family dinner’, I typically picture my family of origin sitting around our table.
Family dinners were a very important ritual to my parents, so we had lots of them.
When I think of a family dinner with my children, the ones that lived in our house, I think differently.
I think of interactions we had.
I think of my son arguing at the school lunch table.
I think of our sons telling us about their experiences and interactions at school lunches, where another student said something that frustrated them or something they disagreed with.
In terms of interactions, family dinners are an opportunity to share time together. It is an opportunity where families can have discussions without as many interruptions.
Family Dinners have meaning to me because the ‘family dinner’ is a time where my family sits down together and eats.
It also has meaning because the term ‘family dinner’ indicates people who are interacting while they are eating.
I noticed when my children were older that if we didn’t have protected time together, which we spent at a table and eating, then I didn’t get it someplace else with them.
I started at that time to put more value on eating together. After dinner they dispersed to other parts of our house. My husband and I also started doing other things after dinner, including cleaning up, encouraging them to do their ‘chores’, and watching television together.
Now that I am an empty nester, family dinner has a different meaning to me.
Family dinner means memories of our time when we ate as a family of four.
It also means getting together with friends, I have some friends who have gatherings that they title ‘Family Dinner’.
My own children value eating, but also put a lot more value into what they are eating. (I have always wished I put more value into that part, but I do not)
As it becomes more and more difficult to sit down to an actual meal, my family of origin has discovered that we need to find ways to continue to interact together.
One of the ways we do that is by watching the same television show at different locations.
A family favorite is the show ‘Big Brother’. We watch it, we process it, we guess who is going to leave the show next…so much fun.
As a therapist, I think about how to be helpful to others and to value their version of ‘family dinner’ and its importance to them.
I think about showing how I value each person’s style and preference about interacting with other people.
I focus on helping people find ways to get that time to interact with others, in ways that have value to them, that is important in increasing positive interactions they have with others.
I think about ‘how does a person get that protected time, where distractions are at a minimum?’ ‘How do each of us get that need met, so that we feel connected to the people who are important to us?’
My question for you: How do you find quality time to interact with people you want to interact with?
something to think about 🙂
Originally published at medium.com