FaMealy: The endangered tradition

FaMealy: The endangered tradition

Sep 25, 2019

September 23 – 27, 2019 is declared as the 27th National Family Week. In fact, last Monday classes and work in government offices were shortened to end at 2 pm, in order to encourage families to spend mealtime with their family members. I hope those who were dismissed early really went home to spend a meal with their family. ?

I am big on “FaMealy,” sharing meals with family members. Since breakfast is usually hurried, and lunch is taken at school and workplace, it’s the family dinner that we can all try to have together as much as possible.

I grew up sharing family dinners with my family of seven members (father, mother, four daughters, and one son). Up to these days, my siblings and I still enjoy long meal conversations that my sons would say, “A lunch get-together with the Fres clan can mean lunch + merienda + dinner sometimes!”


The importance of Family Meals

Numerous studies show that children who have regular family meals have wider vocabulary, perform better in school, are less likely to be obese, depressed, use drugs, smoke, and engage in risky behaviors.


Among the numerous studies that show the benefits of family meals are:


  1. Are there nutritional and other benefits associated with family meals among at-risk youth? – by Fulkerson J.A., Kubik M.Y., Story, M., Lytle L., Arcan C., 2009
    The study found out that children who have more regular family meals are less likely to be overweight.

    2. Family meal patterns: associations with sociodemographic characteristics and improved dietary intake among adolescents. – by Neumark-Szatainer D., Hannan P.J., Story M., Croll J., Perry C., 2003
    Family meals play an important role in promoting positive dietary intake among adolescents.
    3. Family dinner and adolescent overweight – Taveras E.M., Rifas-Shiman S.L., Berkey C.S., Rockett H.R., Field A.E., Frazier A.L., Colditz G.A., Gillman M.W., 2005
    The frequency of eating family dinner is inversely associated with overweight prevalence.

    4. Systematic review of the effects of family meal frequency on psychosocial outcomes in youth – Harrison, M.E. et al., 2015
    Frequent family meals are associated with better psychosocial outcomes for children and adolescents.

(Links to the above studies are provided at the end of the article)


The challenges:

There are barriers to having family meals on a regular basis with all family members present. Three of the most common barriers in our country are the following:

  1. Prevalence of OFWs. The Philippine Statistics Authority records show 2.3 million overseas Filipino workers in 2017. This growing number translates to a significant percentage of Filipino families with at least one member away from home, making it impossible to have regular family meals. What more, the proportion of female OFWs at 53.7% may also mean that more mothers, who are usually tasked to prepare meals, are leaving their families to work away from home. I remember top child psychologist Dr. Honey Carandang saying, “We were still fine when the fathers left to work abroad, the bigger problems came when mothers of young children started working abroad away from their families.”

    2. Increase in the incidence of broken families. When the father and mother decide to separate, having family meals with all family members present can just happen upon special requests on birthdays and other special occasions, if they even happen at all.

    3. TRAFFIC. I purposely wrote this factor in capital letters because I’m sure all of you have felt the seemingly bottomless deterioration of our traffic situation in the metro. Just when we thought a two-hour drive to work one way is ultimate parusa, the number of hours seem to be getting longer and longer. Commuting in the metro is really a capital punishment!☹️ Having half-way houses are now very common not just among employees but even among our young students. In a gathering with college classmates last Friday, I found out that most of their children have to rent a place near their universities because it has become impossible to go home everyday.

I can’t help but be thankful that we’re sort of done raising our kids (well, sort of, because I don’t know if parenting ever stops. ?)

I remember already complaining about traffic back then when the boys were still in their early school years. I really wanted them to come home early, have merienda, do their homework peacefully at home, and still have time to play at the park. Marvin also mastered the art of predicting ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) long before Waze was invented, so that he could join family dinners.


These family dinners were a huge part of how we built our family. The stories of highs and lows, failures and triumphs, corny jokes, and everything in between, shared at the dinner table were essential ingredients in forging the close relationship that we have. These days with all of them already working, complete family meals are rare and treasured by this mom. I’m thankful that they also look forward to it as much as I do. They continue to share their stories, and it’s because they grew up in the tradition of FaMealy. They know that during these gatherings, they can express their highs and lows, not be judged, but will definitely hear honest opinions. ?

With today’s challenges endangering this important family meal tradition, we have to come up with creative ways to regularly connect with our children while they are growing up.


What are your creative ways of supplementing family meals in order to forge close family ties?


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(originally uploaded in Anton Fausto’s Youtube channel: https://youtu.be/dOwrTG_iV-Y)


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Rose Fres Fausto is a speaker and author of bestselling books Raising Pinoy Boys and The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon (English and Filipino versions). Click this link to read samples – Books of FQ Mom. She is a Behavioral Economist, Certified Gallup Strengths Coach and the grand prize winner of the first Sinag Financial Literacy Digital Journalism Awards. Follow her on Facebook & YouTube as FQ Mom, and Twitter & Instagram as theFQMom. Her latest book is FQ: The nth Intelligence.


ARTICLE ATTRIBUTIONS:


Here are the links of the studies mentioned in the article:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19766944

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12616252

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15919844

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4325878/


IMAGE ATTRIBUTIONS:

Photos from vectorstock.com, time.com, brazoriacountytx.gov, ckphu.com, cookinglight.com, blog.riamoneytransfer.com, faith-and-politics.com, express.co.uk, and businessmirror.com.ph, modified and used to help deliver the message of the article.