Worklife Balance meets work,life, balance

When was the last time you sat down to a ‘family’ meal to eat and talk?

Oh, let me add this… when was the last time you sat down for a meal with those who matter most to you AND did so with no TV, no distractions (phones, iPods, Nintendos, Sony PS etc) and just talked? 

If it was within the last five days, congratulations.  If it’s been longer then maybe it about time to do that again.

Dinner has the power to create family and community, whether the gathered are blood relatives, business colleagues or newfound friends. Simply put: Good things almost always happen when people share a meal. – Unknown

For all of the preceding scenarios, there’s something important in the words that follow that will encourage you.

Recently, I had a conversation with my brother on the topic of teenage pregnancy. (It’s a thrill to have a conversation with someone who is a self-declared authority on a wide range of subjects.  I mean, he even has a website called www.iknowalotofstuff.com! )

In the discussion he noted that he had read a number of articles including one that group of teens were surveyed to find out information about their emotional state in relation to the activities that they participated in both in and out of their home. In the study it was noted that a high percentage of teens that were facing emotional and relationship difficulties did not participate in a regular family meal. What’s THAT about?

My conversations with my brother often turn in to debates – in the most civil sense of the word – each of us taking a position and engaging in a battle of wits like two highly trained olympic fencers.  What’s great about these conversations is that they began a long time ago during our childhood as we shared family meals. Sunday dinner at Grandma’s, Friday (or was it Saturday) nights watching Starsky and Hutch.  Later in life we shared apartments and would eat together and go for walks around the city just talking.

In recent years Janet (my wife) and I have been the host family for students from China. One of the traditions that we maintained was eating together as often as possible – without TV or distractions – to find out how they were getting on in their studies and their lives. The impact on their lives was positive and beneficial. In fact, it is one of the activities that students that have moved on from our home remember the most.

I say all of that to say this….

Eating is, in many cultures, as a communal activity. It is a place where people get to share, connect and nourish their body and their soul.

Sharing a meal is part of the courtship ritual for men and women across the planet.  It’s time and place where whatever may be on the plate, what matters is being together.

Sharing a meal is an opportunity to share your thoughts, build relationships and build trust.  When it is done consistently and with sincerity it becomes a tradition and in come cases… sacred.

It becomes an important and fundamental component of communication between the family members.

When a family (or even a couple) are able to share this time to listen and be heard then the children are less likely to need to find expression through alcohol, drugs and sex (leading to teenage pregnancy). Men and women are less likely to feel isolated or misunderstood and seek comfort in the arms of another person.

I’m not saying that this alone will solve all of the family communication problems, but I have seen that it can be an important step in the right direction. I also realise how difficult it can be to make this happen with the busy schedules that we all seem to have nowadays.

What I am saying is that communication has to start somewhere and at some time.  Why not go back to where it all began…. share a drink, a snack or a meal with your significant other and build from there.

Puzzle me this, puzzle me that….

Is it possible to schedule ONE meal this month with your family? It is possible to do that on a regular basis?

If the lives of the people you care about are important to you, make a decision to make a way to ‘break bread’ with them on a regular basis.  It’s worth the investment because you’re playing your part in the choice between broken bread or broken lives.