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A Table: The Source of Civilization

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A Table: the Source of Civilization

What is dinnertime? Why, for thousands of years, have families gathered together to sit at a table and eat? According to anthropologist Robin Fox, "A meal is about civilizing children. It's about teaching them to be a member of their culture" (Gibbs 4). We, as human beings, collect ourselves and sit down for the betterment and civilization of our children. Not only are the hearty meats and fresh vegetables set out to keep children physically healthy, but the riveting conversations and playful banter are set out to keep children mentally healthy. In turn, this builds skills such as communication and socialization, skills vital to be a part of culture. The children of the world are the future of the world, and parents are the creators of this future. It is only natural that they gather their children in order to teach them and watch them grow.

Many people might say that the quintessential family meal looks a little like this: mother cooking, father setting his briefcase down, and the kids patiently waiting to receive their rations. In my home, family meals looked a lot like this when I was growing up, the only difference was that it was completely chaotic. Sure, my mom cooked while my dad came in the door, but our main goal was to be together; we would sing, we would dance, we would laugh. My parents were only interested in instilling great values in my brother and I so that one day we would become benevolent people in the community. This proactive home environment creates a net, and many studies have found that kids with this net are less likely to smoke, drink, do drugs, and more likely to do well in school, eat their vegetables, and learn big words (Gibbs 4). Big words allow children to get a sense of how conversation is structured. Conversation is a great art that is taught at the dinner table, and if that is lost, or if things like technology and busy schedules get in the way, children will not be able to sufficiently communicate. Laurie David, producer of "An Inconvenient Truth" and advocate of stimulating mealtimes stated: "A big part of the challenge is teaching your kids how to have a real conversation, not a texting conversation," she informs, "if they're not sitting down at the table, the art of conversation is going to go" (Dominus). Also, sitting down at a dinner table and conversing with loved ones is a very effective way to prepare children for their futures. In my experience, I have noticed that I love listening to the stories of my parents and grandparents (they moved into my house and joined our dinner table about a year ago) and I learn a lot from their mistakes. Having many generations of stories helps prepare me for the future, the main goal of a mealtime.

Although mealtimes have been very loving and warm throughout my life, some people believe, "just because we are sitting together doesn't mean we have anything to say"



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