With the Christmas season behind us, I want to share with you my thoughts of the deterioration of the closeness of the family and the recognition parental authority. There are two reasons for this: television and the family dinner—or lack thereof.
Before television, a family usually waited until Father got home from work to gather around the dinner table. Or, for rural dwellers, the family worked together on the farm and then gathered around the table. As they ate dinner, they discussed their day’s experiences and, most importantly, they made eye contact. There was direct interaction between all family members as they shared those experiences, worked out problems and discussed the issues of the day. There was a true family structure, a mother and father sitting as heads of the family and the children, well, being children. There was authority and manners that led to a sense of belonging to a family unit.
Since the television was introduced, many families have progressed to having dinner in front of television—if they all even sit down to dinner at the same time. This did not take place immediately—it happened over time. There is no longer eye contact, thus parents have loss a great deal of authority. You know what I am talking about—The Look. The acknowledging smile.
Naturally, there are other tangential factors contributing to the deterioration of family dinner, including how dinner is prepared, eating out, sporting events, multiple entertainment sources, and work schedules.
I am not advocating that we need to become Ward and June Cleaver with Beaver and Wally. Remember that family was a product of the Golden Age of Television. Naturally, in today’s environment, the Cleaver family would be nearly impossible. I am not judging any family units. Nor am I saying television is bad. I am merely looking at the sociological impact that television has had on our families. Since the time television was introduced, other inventions and individual events have come along and have also had an impact on the family unit, but television started this evolution.
What do you think? Does your family eat dinner together around a table? What do you think family dinners of the future will be like?