In proportion as man rises in the intellectual scale, does he give prominence to mental and moral enjoyments in conjunction with his daily meals.
-H Clay Trumbull
The kitchen table is, in my estimation, of the very best of tools a parent has at their behest in raising their children. While I’ve been a parent for but a little over two months, I’ve been a child all my life. I have spent many an hour at the kitchen table. I have seen it used well and not. I have participated in and contributed to both. In my experience, not is when it is used merely as a place to rest food for eating. Not is when the family uses it non intentionally; people coming when they may and if they will, a non priority but more a means to an end. When used well it is a wondrous thing. A true delight. The family comes together in more than just physical proximity. They come together in spirit. They anticipate the experience. They linger and truly enjoy and profit from the gift of family.
Table talk ought to be such, in every family, as to make the hour of home mealtime one of the most attractive as well as one of the most beneficial hours of the day to all the children. But in order to make table-talk valuable, parents must have something to talk about at the table, must be willing to talk about it there, and must have the children lovingly in mind as they do their table talking.
I agree with Mr. Trumbull’s suggestion: the kitchen table should be much more though than just a place to enjoy family, it should be a place for family to grow. He notes that some of Jesus’s most profound truths in teaching are found in His words with those whom he sat with eating. He goes on to point out that the “table talk of great men has, for centuries, been recognized as having a freeness, a simplicity, and a forcefulness, not to be found in their words spoken elsewhere.” What if our kitchen tables were the intellectual and moral center of our homes?
Here are a few practical ideas from Mr. Trumbull and others on how we might make it so:
- One father has been known to read over the morning paper before breakfast and bring to the attention news of particular interest to the application of family values during table talk.
- Another father will set a topic for supper table talk in advance and challenge the children to learn all they can for the discussion.
- One family keeps a dictionary within reach of the kitchen table so that table talk can continue on when a word needs learning.
- Another family has been known to make a habit of asking God what He wants of each of them throughout the day and writing it down. Asking and sharing and discussing what was heard and how it went and what can be learned has lead to most profitable and enjoyable conversation.
Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine By the sides of thine house: Thy children like olive plants Round about thy table. Psalms 128:3
What are some ideas to get us all headed in that direction? What challenges have you faced in this endeavor?
-A takeaway from Hints on Child Training by H Clay Trumbull
As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.