Last night I posted on Facebook a rhetorical question. I did not make this clear, as I received many responses. The question posed was "Who sends their kid over at 6:15p to play? Isn't 6p national dinner time?"
The responses were varied, but several encouraged me to change my household expectations for the lack of courtesy bestowed by others. While I don't mean to offend (a lot) - ummmm..NO!
Dinner is at 6p in my house (give or take a few minutes). And yes, most nights I cook and put dinner on the table for my family. Growing up this was a tradition I watched my mother and BOTH of my grandmothers do for their families. Dinner was on the table for my brother and me usually by 5:30p. My mother would come in from work and go straight to the kitchen. Was it ideal? Probably not. But did we love her for it - you better believe it! My family used to head out to Creedmoor on Sundays just because we knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Grandma would have a roast prepared. She fed her family. I am proud to continue this tradition. I find myself to be suddenly an anomaly with regards to this coveted family time.
It's not necessarily about the time of the day one eats with their loved ones. A poll at work today of several people, both male and female, revealed that dinner time occurs anywhere between 6p-7p each night. One mom shared with me that even on the nights of baseball practice (or whatever sport is in season) they still make time to eat together, as a family.
I also polled my students. Granted, when I was in high school, sports and my job interfered with regular dinner times, but my mother and father still made sure I was fed. A plate put in the fridge for me and they still had a sit down dinner as a family. Friends flooded our home on a regular basis to be part of this tradition. It's easy for me to say that things were better when I was a kid, but as I remember the amount of friends that ate dinner at my house nightly, I can honestly say this has been going on for quite some time; I'm just now noticing. Most of my students are on their own quite a bit for dinner, if they eat at all. Some of this is financial, but even more so, it's laziness. An absolute choice to not participate in creating a viable, growing, loving family. This saddens me.
I think, for me at least, it suggests the lack of family time period. Not just the conversation that happens around a meal, but the lack of parenting that goes on in so many homes across America. Children need boundaries and they need to know these boundaries come with love and affection. So, whether is a set dinner time, a bath time, a bed time, or reading time, the expectations must be clear. Being with my family in the evenings is not something I'm ever willing to sacrifice.
Dinner will continue to be at 6p in my house. I am the mom that will send you away if you interrupt this family time. I will not answer the phone or check my text messages. We are eating. It is my hope that CJ will be grateful for this like I am when he's older and marry a woman one day that values family traditions as much as I do.