My wife and I are enjoying the privilege of second-generation parenting. This is a term that describes grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. After having already raised four wonderful daughters, Lori and I found ourselves faced with the need to take in three of our grandkids. Without any hesitation we jumped back into the role of parenting eight years ago, and although there have been some difficult times for us, we have found that this has been one of the greatest experiences of our lives.
At a time in life when most people our age are quietly enjoying their retirement years with an empty nest, we find that our nest is still very, very full. Instead of quiet days and weekends being able to come and go as we please, we are usually running between basketball games, Boy Scout outings, and ballet lessons. Make no mistake about it—we often feel the effects of our age, especially as evening rolls around, but that pales quickly in comparison to the joy we get from seeing these youngsters mature in an environment of love and affection.
One of the benefits we have with this as our second time parenting is that we have learned from some of our mistakes, which means that this is almost like a parenting “do-over.” Both Lori and I have matured and grown emotionally and spiritually, and that has given us an entirely new perspective on what is important in parenting. One of the simple things we stress in our home is the Family Table—not just the physical table, but the ritual of us all sitting together as a family as we share our lives first, and then secondarily where we eat our meals. It is a simple thing, but we’ve realized that the Family Table is meant to be more than a place where we consume meals. When we dine together, we celebrate the goodness of God, and then we enjoy one another’s company as we talk about what is happening in each of our lives.
Unfortunately, The Family Table principle is not something that everyone understands or sees as very important. Nowadays many people often grab food on the run, eating when it is convenient with their personal schedule, or even as they sit watching television. However, for most of human history meal time was much more than grabbing a taco or burger from a drive-thru line. Meals took time to prepare and people honored the cook by taking their time and fellowshipping around the meal. There were also times when meals were only shared with your closest friends—others that you trusted with your life.
Some of the fondest memories people have of mealtimes involve gathering at a Family Table around the holidays, such as for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Of course, these are times when people put out their best tableware and fill it with the best foods. But what most remember about these times is not the food, but the wonderful conversations and friendship they share at the Family Table.
Making the Family Table a part of your family life takes commitment and requires setting it as a priority for the whole family. The Family Table should be place where bonds are made, problems are aired and worked out, and where memories are made together. Sharing life over a meal is even something Jesus and his disciples did, and it is something that he will continue to do in his Millennial Kingdom with all of us. If you want better relationships with friends and family, then consider incorporating the principle of the Family Table into your life.