My mom is known for a lot of things, but I would have to say it is her love of cooking that she is the most famous for. Growing up, it was a house rule that dinner was always served at the table and that everyone was home during this time. While it seemed like no big deal in my younger years, it became totally annoying once I became “too cool” for my family and thought my friends were top priority. “Bring them over” my mom would say, “They can eat with us to.”
To this day when you ask any of my childhood friends about my mom, they will probably yammer on about the spaghetti, taco night or that time Ryan was challenged to see how many tater tots he could stuff in his mouth(was it 20?). Our dinner table was fun. Our dinner table to this day remains special. Our dinner table carries the weight of tears-some happy, some sad. My own dinner table has become uniquely special (it was passed down to me from my grandmother) and is where new family and friends come to eat, share stories, and laugh so hard you cry.
In working with families and couples I often talk about creating a space that would be the equivalent to my mom’s dining room table. A place where the T.V. is off and phones are put down. A place where fun and tough conversations can happen and where eye contact is key. “How do I talk to my teenager” a parent asks. “How do I talk to my husband?” a client asks. Time and time again my answer remains the same. Over dinner, at the table, with the T.V. off and your phones put away. This allows a space for you to learn about the other person, whether it be as simple as what homework is due the next day or something more complicated or challenging, like bullying. This allows space for you to share long term goals and characteristics you value such as honesty and integrity. This allows space for learning table manners and better eating habits. This space is secure and certain-something we could all use a little more of in a world that creates uncertainty.
We still always eat at the dining room table when home with my parents, and while my dad slips on the whole “T.V. not-on thing” from time to time, I can recall just as many memories around that table as an adult as I do from my childhood. I am grateful my mom remained insistent, so that it could be instilled in me but also that she was willing to share it with my friends so that many other kids got the same opportunity.