When I was growing up I remember my family having dinner together almost every night of the week. I don’t think it was a deliberate effort to spend time with each other. It was just that my mom fixed dinner for everyone and when it was ready, we all sat down to eat it. I remember talking and laughing together. I remember saying things in the midst of conversations that my dad didn’t like. And I remember when we would ask to be excused (especially if we were the first one to ask), my dad generally said “No, I’m not done lookin’ atcha yet.” It irritated us at the time, but now I find myself saying that to my own kids. I especially say it when I take my kids to my parent’s house for dinner. If they asked to be excused, the first thing that pops out of my mouth is, “No, ‘Baba’ isn’t done looking atcha yet.” (Baba is what they call my dad. Not sure where they picked it up, but the name has stuck.)
The chapter in my book today is called “Home as a Rest Area”. One thing that really stood out to me today is what she said about family dinners. There was a study done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. It said that “teens who ate dinner five to seven times a week with their families were 45% less likely to try alcohol, 24% less apt to smoke marijuana, and 67% more likely to get A’s compared with kids who never or rarely dined with their families.” Now, of course, I don’t want my kids to try alcohol or marijuana and I want them to excel in school. But, more than that, I want to know them and I want to start the kind of open communication that encourages them to come and talk to me if they are faced with these kinds of choices. I also want them to feel like they can have fun with their family. I don’t want it to be a chore to spend time with each other. My kids are very young right now, but I can already tell there are relationships forming that are healthy and loving inspite of the sibling rivalry that sometimes occurs.
The point of the chapter is that families should be able to think of home as a place to rest and recuperate. Life is so busy and so instant in this day and age that people need a place to recover. I have noticed with my own family that kids don’t always want a place to recover. Christian asks me everyday after school if we are going somewhere. Most nights I say no, but he still gets so disappointed. Right now it is easy to stay home and do nothing. It is easy to have family dinners and plan a “family fun night”. They are all little and because of that, its too much work for me to take them very many places. Its when they are older that there will be more involvement and more commitment required.
Last night we had a family night. There wasn’t a whole lot of interaction but it was nice to just relax on the couch with my kids. I got a pizza from Papa Murphy’s (minimal clean up), and the latest Scooby Doo movie. Aida kept saying the movie was scary. I told her its not scary, its funny. She did laugh through most of the movie. Even Allyn sat and watched the whole thing. After the movie was over Aida, Allyn and Brody went to bed. Then Christian and I stayed up late and watched G.I. Joe. It was exciting for him to stay up late with me and watch a movie in my room. (I have the bigger and better TV in my bedroom. It was Derick’s birthday present last year.) I love spending time with my kids. Sometimes, though, it requires such an effort that I just opt not to do it. What I forget is that they like to do everyday things with me. Right now, at this stage in their lives, they just like being with me. They don’t care if being with me means going grocery shopping, or folding laundry or fixing dinner. (Cleaning their room is still an undesirable task.) They just love it when I pay attention to themand intentionally include them in my life. Sometimes when I fix lunch for them and not for me, they insist that they won’t start eating until I sit and eat with them. I need to enjoy this stage of life. All too soon, they will be teenagers and mom will be embarrassing! 🙂 God made families as a foundation in life. I need to remember to nurture the relationships while I can, not neglect them because its a hassle at the moment.