I sure have seen Charlie Sheen a lot in the media lately. Does it bother you, like it bothers me? It breaks my heart watching someone with substance abuse problems battle their demons. I wonder how Charlie's family feels watching this happen to him? Actually, I don't wonder, I think I know. I have friends and family members who suffer from addictions. I'm sure I'm not alone in proclaiming that.
It's worse watching a person that you love, isn't it? A person who one day makes a choice that changes them forever -- and over the years you watch as their countenance changes from light to dark -- that is, unless they get help. I always wonder if there is something I could have done to help prevent the people I love from ever going down that dark road. Sometimes even small things can make a difference.
Last week, I went to a function where my friend Joanne spoke about the importance of eating together as a family. Did you know that children who eat around the dinner table with parents on a regular basis are less likely to smoke, drink and use drugs? I thought that was a pretty bold statement, but Joanne backed it up with data from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, and several other reliable sources. I did some hunting today on the internet, and what JoAnn said is true. Statistics show that children who eat around the dinner table are less likely to smoke, drink and use drugs. A regular family dinner around the table is a small thing that could make a big difference in the life of someone that you love.
I think about my own youth and the times that I spent with my family around the dinner table. We didn't do it often and we were not very connected, nor did we communicate much. But, there was a time before my dad died that we went to dinner at my grandparents house every Sunday afternoon. Those times that we spent together eating around my grandparents table are some of my fondest memories. I'm not kidding when I say that. There was a certain comfort there. I loved that my grandmother would make special meals for me. I loved that we laughed and talked, and celebrated holidays and birthdays around her table. I loved watching her cook. I loved it when she asked me to help. We were connected through those meals and conversations. I know they drew us closer together as a family.
Joannne's presentation inspired me to get back to basics and gather my family around the table again. I don't know about you, but sometimes, that is really hard to do -- especially when you work, or have kids involved in extracurricular activities, or don't like to cook. It seems as my kids have gotten older, they are home less and less. I'm noticing that we aren't as connected as we used to be. Sometimes our kids don't need the dinner as much as they need us. They need the conversations, the laughter, and knowing that they are loved. I know my kids need that from me.
As Joanne talked, she also asked questions. She asked the group "What are some of the reasons you don't cook, or have dinner around the table?
There were LOTS of hands raised, let me tell you. We all had the same issues:
- My kids always complain about what I make. (That happens to me all the time.)
- I never know what to make.
- I don't have the right ingredients in my cupboards.
- It takes too long, and I hate cleaning up the mess.
- We are too busy to sit down at the table.
Joanne knew that would happen. She came prepared and gave us help for each and every issue. I want to share her advise because it was amazing. She reminded me that cooking meals is do-able, even if you have 4 kids who play soccer (which Joanne does.) Her family eats at home almost every night, and they eat food that Joanne prepares. Believe it or not, she doesn't cook very often. She has a method that works for her. I have to confess, that I used to have a method that worked for me too, but I slacked off. Not JoAnn, she is a wise woman, who walks the talk.
Even though I was a slacker, I can tell you this -- if you are consistent and find a method that works for your family, you will be able to get a meal on the table without a lot of work, or mess. And even better, you can save a bunch of money because you shop less and eat out less. All good things, if you ask me. I might have enough money to buy that Anthropologie outfit I've been eying.
If you are interested in ideas about how to get a homemade meal on the table without cooking every single night, click here. I challenge you to give it a try for 30 days. I guarantee, will be glad that you did.
Thanks Joanne, you wonderwoman you. I'm getting back on track and bringing back the family dinner.
Post Script: This photo is one of the few pictures I have of my entire family. It was taken at my grandmother's kitchen table after a family dinner.