As we have evolved from living together in tribal societies to living together in our extended families and living in nuclear families, meals have mostly been eaten together in groups. Not long ago, dinner was at 6pm every night with few exceptions. Mom made the meal, the rest of the family members would all come home from work or school, and sit around the table together. The food would be served and everyone would eat while talking about the various events of the day. This ritual bonded people, and the family that ate together stayed together.
Today everything has changed. People increasingly eat most of their meals out, in restaurants, delis, fast-food chains or snacking along the way. Home is often like a hotel, serving only as a place for people to sleep at night. Adults, teenagers and children wake up at different times, go in different directions, eat separately and have little communication throughout the day. It’s rare that everyone gets to have a home-cooked meal together. This schedule creates distance in family relationships, and the lack of quality, home-cooked food leads to deficiency of primary nourishment.
Whether cooking, keeping the home clean or raising children, women’s important roles in the home have more often than not been underappreciated in society. It is important to recognize how traditional, motherly nourishment supports the whole family. It keeps everyone healthy and happy in many ways. When families are dealing with two careers, longer work hours and children with multiple extracurricular activities, it is unrealistic and unfair for the woman to be responsible for feeding the entire family. Men and children can also participate in shopping, preparing, cooking and cleaning. Just as sitting and eating together strengthens family bonds, so too can preparing a delicious meal together. Children can wash and peel vegetables, set the table, and when they get older even help chop and cook. A good policy in the kitchen is that whoever cooks is free from doing the dishes. Each household will be different, so please find a routine that works for yours. Be sure to utilize everyone and appreciate everyone’s contributions.