"On some old rocks the geologist shows you the tracks of birds made ages and ages ago, and the print of the leaf that fell or the dents made by the pattering raindrops. It was soft sand then, but it hardened afterward into rock, and these marks were preserved, imperishable records of the history of a day that shone uncounted centuries ago. Let no one think that the history of any day in the life of a home is recorded any less imperishably on the sensitive lives of the children."
Now, that is something to ponder, is it not?
The above is a quote from Mr. JR Miller's book "Homemaking" which you can read for free online by Googling the author’s name and the title together.
Mr. Miller has a way of "hitting a parent right between the eyes" with eternal truths and the REALITY that the lasting impressions our choices, activities, guidance, and parenting in general will have in the lives of our children.
The comments above remind me that there is no such thing as an insignificant day in our homes.
At a later point in that chapter, the author poses a question to Fathers, asking them, why...when they have allowed their sons to "take to the streets" in the evenings on a regular basis...are they then surprised to learn that those same sons have learned to swear, smoke, gossip, and partake in behaviors unbefitting of Christian young men. (I've paraphrased his words, but that is the "message" )
While I think it's safe to assume that most people reading this and visiting CatholicMom.com are not in the habit of letting their sons run the streets at night...I do believe that many of our families suffer from the temptations of modern culture in America in that we feel a pressure or a "need" to always be going, doing, joining, participating, entertaining, and "living" outside the home.
In fact, I adamantly believe that much of the break-down of the American Family is due to the lack of time families spend together at home.
Unfortunately, even when families are together at home, more often than not, we are missing the opportunities before us to connect, to bond, to grow, and to learn.
Take the family dinner table, for instance. Mr. Miller claims that the family's dinner time should be the center and highlight of a family's social life! Let's say that again....the everyday act of dining together at home should be the highlight of a family's social life!!!
Is it? Think about it...how many of us can truly say that our family meal time is the highlight of our social lives? I know I can't!
Especially for those who have 4, 5, 6, or more kids at the table, if your family is anything like ours, the majority of time is spent getting up and down to refill the plates of those too small to do it themselves, wiping up spills, admonishing people not to kick the table while they eat, and trying to get everyone to speak "one at a time" so that something....anything...can be heard in order to actually have a worthwhile conversation.
By the time dinner's over...we are not lingering....(which, I might add, is one of my own most precious memories of childhood...people always lingered at my mother's dinner table...sometimes sitting there for more than an hour afterward, just sipping coffee and enjoying light-hearted conversation).
This is an area where my husband and I greatly differ in our personalities. He is a man of action! He is a man of the military...routine...duty....order...productivity. He wants to eat, get done, get up, clean up, and move on to the next thing....I want to linger. It has actually become a joke between us through the years wherein if we have guests or even if we are by ourselves and have finished eating but are still sitting there, he will smile at me and say quite proudly, "Well...aren't we all just lingering and enjoying ourselves here?" I laugh and yet I know that inside, it's killing him and he is thinking of the floor that needs swept, the garbage that needs to go to the street, the baths that need given, and the work clothes that need ironed for the next day!
JR Miller suggests that each family member take a turn in introducing a new fact or interesting tidbit at dinner every day. This, he writes, is not only a wonderful way for a family to connect and bond, but is a subtle form of home-instruction that will have lasting impressions in the lives of our children when they are grown and think back upon their childhood days.
Our family does strive to encourage the kids in the art of conversation during dinner. And, at times, we will say a decade of the rosary before or after the meal as we are all conveniently gathered and the rosaries are within reach, hanging on our dining room wall. We've also been known to enjoy some read-aloud time at the table...reading a chapter each evening when I am done with my meal. (Moms know how to eat QUICKLY and look graceful doing it!)
This week, I am reflecting on the thoughts of the wonderful author mentioned in this post.
I would be overjoyed if my children, when grown, would look back and see their family dinner time as the highlight of their social lives.
Many would jump to the accusation that this is neither realistic, nor possible in our technologically-advanced, busy society.
I strongly disagree.
I think it's not only possible but vital to the restoration of family, church, and society as a whole.
What do you think?
Copyright 2010 Judy Dudich
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