Raising a family isn’t easy.
Raising a large, multi-racial, adoptive family is even more difficult, with many twists and turns in the journey. Adopting three siblings almost two years ago was an answer to years of prayer….and yet rocked our family like we never expected.
One thing that happened caught me completely off guard. It is only now that I intend to remedy it once and for all….dining segregation.
It wasn’t a sudden thing, actually, it happened quite naturally, but with the wrong intentions and spirit about it. As we pushed tables together to allow everyone to sit together for our meals, with our newest family members, the accommodations became more and more uncomfortable for some.
Certain children had post-adoptive personality differences and couldn’t stand to sit near each other. As adoptive parents, the last thing you want to do is to try to “force” children to like each other. That is a heart issue and just takes time, much in the same way as a “blended family“.
Time has passed and things are better…much better. Some of the personality differences have found their way to civility, yet others still struggle. As we moved into this home about a year ago, we were blessed with an island in the kitchen that had barstools. Still with the 6-seater table (crammed could seat 8), the teenagers opted to utilize the island for their meals. More segregation.
It has never set well with me, yet I didn’t have the answer. By the way, this situation isn’t uncommon when families adopt older children and blend them with older biological kids.
My husband and I have talked for years about buying the “big one“…the big, honkin’ table that would seat all of us. Yeah, go find that one at the furniture store! LOL! After doing a little research on line for Amish tables, we were discouraged at the investment amount. We just didn’t have it. So we saved.
My desire to have everyone back at the same table, comfortably, became more and more important to me. I grieved the “way it used to be” for my family at the table. God honored the desire of this mother’s heart to bring her family back together for meals, once and for all.
Finally, we ordered our table last November and it just came last week. Amish made, it took several months to get it, but it was well worth the wait.
Our table was hand-made to our specifications. I look forward to passing this down through generations of our family.
Made from Red Oak, we are now able to seat 14 at the table and 4 more at the island, however, the island is reserved for overflow ONLY.
Bringing this table into our home has completely changed everyone’s view of dinnertime! Everyone can now gather together, comfortably, with a little elbow space for siblings that present a bit of a challenge for each other.
However, you don’t need a new table to refresh your mealtime experience! Your family is unique so do a little thinking about how you could ‘change things up’ a bit to get the results you desire. Perhaps getting organized with your meals is something you need to improve on or just making the meal table the place to eat, rather than the couch, etc. or even implementing some conversation starters could be the change you need.
Our homeschool has been more fun these last couple of weeks because we don’t have to clean everything up to make room for a meal, we can just eat at the other end of the table and put our school things away when we’re finished with them.
My next goal is to find a family-friendly centerpiece that won’t be too much of a distraction, but I’m in no hurry.
For now, my plan is to make mealtime just plain wonderful by:
* Making simple, favorite meals that everyone loves.
* Enhancing sibling relationships with new, fresh mealtime memories.
* Creating opportunities for everyone to share and be heard.
Conversation starters are a great way to get everyone talking, here are a few possibilities:
1. What was the best part of your day?
2. What was the biggest challenge of your day?
3. Mom and Dad share memories of our childhood, vacations, dating, etc.
4. Discussion about movies or books that you’ve enjoyed.
5. Trivia facts.
6. Plan a vacation or a day-trip over the meal.
7. What was the funniest thing that happened to you today?
8. If you were ruler of the world for a day, what would you do?
9. What would life be like without telephones?
10. Who do you know who could use a friend? How can you help them?
11. Who is your best friend and why?
(Reposted from 2/2011)