30 September, 2011

Table Time in the Modern Age

Family on Friday!

Or should I say, "Table Time in Spite of the Modern Age?"

The point is, too many people feel that just being in the same room is enough.  And there are those who rarely do that anymore.  I'm not saying to kill your t.v. or check your phone at the door.  I am saying that it would be better to have some place and time when the outside world is left outside.  Signing up your family members for a MMORPG account and doing quests together is social, yes, but in a sad, sad way.

Tables are great for social interaction.  If you can't seem to connect with your family on a meaningful level over a meal just yet, then try any of a wide variety of table games that are out there.  Not all families can converse without heated arguments sending something into the trashcan (I've eaten with you.  I know).  Try turning those arguments into competitiveness.  Nothing can justify animosity better than a game.

Families that have fun together...  well... have fun together.

My daughter isn't old enough to play anything more advanced than look-at-the-toy, hold-up-your-head, or how-long-can-you-hold-the-rattle.  As a former youngun, I can remember living in my parents' very social home.  I've been to houses with teens, tweens, and energy vampires, and it doesn't take long to tell which families set aside time to be a family from those who pass each other in the halls.

I wouldn't suggest quitting the screens cold turkey.  Start off just by trying to demonstrate some simple courtesy (hundreds of thousands of moviegoers will thank you).  And lead by example.  Nothing will build up resentment and rebellion more a than do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do attitude.  Think about your attitude toward our government and you'll understand what I'm talking about.

Courtesy can and will prompt a change from looking in the area between the plate and stomach to heads up, eyes forward, and realizing that there are people in the room with whom to speak.  The best way to get there relies on incentive and reward, not restriction and punishment.  You've got to be ten times more interesting than whatever they're doing to avoid you, not the subject of their next flame.

What's worked for you?


Gussie said...

Table time is a great thing...however, very difficult to achieve in this day and age. It's easier when your kids are small and your spouse has a 9-5 job,but becomes more difficult outside those perameters. A sad commentery on today's socialital priorities. I know, as I fell into the trap! From the time the girls entered Kindergarten we were flying to dance, karate,music, Girl Scouts, Youth Group...you get the idea. While we did sit down at the table to eat, is was rushed, in most cases, so we get to the next activity. Why did we participate in all thosed activities? ONE reason was socialital expectations...you know, producing the outstanding, well rounded, self confident, team player,and talented child ready to take on college and the world. (I also have a child with learning disabilities, so I had other related motivations.) Moving from childhood to teenhood reduces the VARIETY of activities, while increasing the FREQUENCY of the one or two activities they have opted to participate in. Moving into young adulthood, you now have very little control over any of your kids' activities, usually of a social variety, and are fortunate to text time, much less face time.
My point is, busy...ness, makes QUALITY table time dinner impossible. Busy...ness OUTSIDE the home dosn't leave much energy for table time GAMES either. So, how did my Mom do it?

Gussie said...

So, how did my Mom do it? I took ballet, piano, art, Girl Scouts... We always had dinner a 6:00pm, leisurely and talkative. Looking back I see three differences. 1) My Mom worked inside the home, formerly called housewife. So, she didn't need to rush home from work and rush dinner preperations. 2) Activities were always scheduled to occur right after school to be completed prior to dinner preparation time. With Moms working today, activities must be scheduled later in the day. 3) Mom's intent was to open new artistic world's that school did not offer. Societally, now we put our kids in activities just to "keep up with the Jones'."
So, while table time is a great thing, one must really work hard to honor it. It really takes a concerted effort to decide what, if anything, will be allowed to infringe upon it (including preparation and clean-up time). It's time to prioritize what our children REALLY need, and not worry so much about keeping them busy, worrying about their college applications or keeping up with those "neighbors".

Raymond Henri said...

Well said, Gussie. Thank you very much for your time, words, and perspective. The best way for me to respond is in a future blog post about perpetual motion. I had a _very_ active high school experience and even more so in college. So, I have a sense of what you are talking about personally, and I've seen that kind of lifestyle, too. It's not a good thing. So,... Thanks also for the blog concept. I'll give you an acknowledgment in it.