Fr. Leo's ministry Grace Before Meals is all about gathering families around the dinner table for good food and good conversation, in order to foster the great connections that the domestic Church that is the family.
But I had an interesting discussion some weeks back with a group of moms about if the "family dinner" was so important. One mom argued that other mealtimes, like breakfast, could be a time to gather, and pegging it to dinner was too restrictive. Another mom argued that perhaps even mealtime was not necessary for connection when there are other opportunities for connection as a family, and that "forcing" everyone to participate in family mealtimes could be counterproductive. It made for an interesting conversation.
I do think there is something important about eating together that is unique in a family's experience. But I also know some people don't have great memories of family mealtimes. Also, there can be different seasons of life, such as busy sport or work schedules and young children just learning table manners, that can make family mealtimes a challenge at best.
As I wrote in my review of Fr. Leo's book, our family's mealtimes often break some of the common "rules" for dinner time. I was partially joking, of course, because there are no rules in Canon Law for how mealtimes should look.
But we do try to make an effort to have family mealtimes and interesting conversations to go along with those, and I find that as our children get older both the discussions and the food get more interesting. That keeps us committed to trying to make those times a priority, even as schedules get busier.
What are some of your family meal rules? Any suggestions for