As I look around amongst the neighbours, and as I hear from colleagues and friends about their eating habits, I wonder more and more what has happened to the world of old.

That’s right, that’s the world where people and families sat at an actual TABLE and ate together.

This strange old habit seems to be dying out: sporting committments, people come and go at all hours, and crap on the TV to watch; all these conspire against the shared table. Last I knew, something like 80% of all households eat dinner in silence whilst watching the goggle box, be that at a dinner table, or mooching around in a lounge room with a big TV going and eating off their lap. [OK I made that number up, but I *did* read something along these lines somewhere, sometime, and the number was large and staggering.]

And we wonder why there are more dysfunctional families?

Even if you gobble and run, eating together at a shared table is a mark of civilisation and respect for one another. For busy people, it can also be one of the few times that a whole family come together and actually have a bit of a chat. Gosh fancy that – 15 minutes in a day to actually be together and talk. Maybe 30 minutes on a good day. Is that too much to ask?

I know firsthand how difficult this can be. Teenagers who are out and about, going to sporting and martial arts classes with early start times (6:30 pm) means that busy parents who might not get home until 6 or 6:30 certainly don’t have time for a civilised sit-down feed beforehand. That means dinner might be on the shared table at 8:00 pm, or later. This is what’s known as a pain in the neck, but the alternatives of eat-on-the-run and never see your family is worse.

Am I the odd one out in feeling the importance of the shared table and the family meal? It’s certainly hard work but I’m sure it is beneficial.


It’s vitally important. Last week on a particularly busy night, we had a ‘picnic’ on the table – bread, cheese, dip, carrot sticks, etc. It’s our time to talk without any distractions.

I’ll be honest though and admit that there are times when we all blob out in front of the ‘goggle box’ with a bowl of pasta in our collective laps, but mostly we’re at the table.

Comment by Kath Lockett | January 19th, 2012 11:06 pm | Permalink

Equally as important as eating together is the clearing away and dish washing. Even if you have a dish-washing machine, it’s important that one parent and one child take this on each night. It’s the one time that parent and child can really talk to each other and it’s great discipline for a tidy house in later life; shared student houses etc.
The dishwasher can wait until all the children have left home but that 15-20 minutes of shared time doing something really practical each day is priceless.

Comment by Dad | January 21st, 2012 5:16 pm | Permalink

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