by Ken Potts
Posted: July 28, 2019
Crazy schedules do not limit their importance…
I guess I grew up in a progressive home. We gave up the family meal long before it became commonplace.
You see, my Dad was in the restaurant business, which means he worked when everyone else ate. And since most of us kids helped out at one time or the other, there were never many family members around at mealtime. We were all too busy serving other peoples' meals. Most of our meals were grabbed on the run or at odd hours.
Despite the fact that even Norman Rockwell would have had trouble getting us all to sit down for dinner together, we did find other time for each other.
My Dad loved long, meandering car rides through the countryside. Sunday nights were always spent together in front of the TV with soup, sandwich and Lassie. Dad often took an afternoon break so he could be there when we got home from school. Trips across town to Grandma and Grandpa's were family events.
We had to work at being together. And as we all got older, it certainly became more difficult, what with the competition of friends, activities and jobs.
It certainly would have been easier if we could have taken for granted that we would all catch up with each other at mealtimes. But since we had never had that luxury, we accepted that we'd have to be family for each other in other ways at other times.
Though the family I grew up in was unusual for its time, our lifestyle would seem a lot more common today. My guess is that most families find it difficult to sit down together on a regular basis for meals.
The prevalence of two income households (often three incomes if we have teens), multiple jobs (some people I know have to string together three different jobs just to get by), schooling (for parents and children) and all the other commitments, responsibilities and activities that fill our lives can make family meals an extremely rare occurrence.
That doesn't mean, however, that we need such family time any less. In fact, what with the stress such frantic lives create, we may need our time together even more.
Yet, finding such time certainly is going to be more than a bit of a challenge with everything else that's going on.
It may be that we can establish some alternative times that we can get together on a regular basis -- a late-night check in, a weekly family breakfast, weekend shopping, or some other fairly consistent family gatherings.
And many of us may have to be more creative, perhaps getting together Sunday night to compare schedules for the coming week and to make some "appointments" with each other for family time.
My hope would be that at least every couple of days we could find a way to all be together (though even that is probably going to be difficult for some of us). Such family time is inevitably going to require that we sacrifice some other things that are important to us. Not everything, but some things.
In the long run, though, I believe we will be glad we did.
As I think back on my childhood, what I remember most are the times we were family for each other. As important as they seemed at the time, most of the other things that filled my life then have faded in my memory.
The time we spend together today will be the memories we cherish tomorrow.
Dr. Ken Potts is on the staff of SamaraCare Counseling Center in Naperville and Downers Grove, Illinois.• E-mail the author (gro.gnilesnuoceracaramas@sttopk*) • Author's website (personal or primary**)
* For web-based email, you may need to copy and paste the address yourself.
** opens in a new tab or window. Close it to return here.