Shared Meals Matter Blog

Jun 25th

5 Important Things a New Kids’ Watch Says About Our Society

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Scrolling through Facebook posts today I noticed a post about a new kids’ watch called “Octopus”.  I’m a fan of smartwatch technology (my son uses one to monitor a medical condition) so I was eager to open this Video of the new “Octopus” watch. Please take a look at this video before reading further.

I admit it took me a few viewings to sort out my feelings for it. (BTW, I have no association with the manufacturer. How we manage our home lives, and make time for sharing meals, is what I research.)

About the video…

What I liked about it…
–the little girl featured seemed eager to handle personal responsibilities (such as getting out of bed, brushing teeth)
–she took a role in family rituals like setting out the cereal bowls for family breakfast (yay for shared meals!)
–she prepared food with her mother (awesome! kids in the kitchen is always great)
–the video claims it “teaches kids good habits” (more accurately, it reminds kids about good habits)

girl-doing-chores-iStock

What rubbed me the wrong way…
–“self-esteem” examples (such as notifying a parent through the push of a button that teeth brushing is done–what’s the parent’s role in personal interaction? and do our tasks completed need to be immediately announced?)
–the video says, “It’s an assistant that helps parents prioritize their expectations” (that seems loaded, and I’m not sure exactly what it means)
–the claim of “no more daily struggles” (I hope that technology doesn’t alleviate all of our struggles, because this can rob us of opportunities to learn from each other and develop collaboration in a personal way.)

This product seems telling of challenges facing many family households. (And I am certainly not attempting to cover all of the issues here in this little blog.)

Here are 5 Important Things this Watch Says:
[along with my personal point of view]

1. Parents feel out of control in their households.
[no judgment, I’ve been there.]
2. Kids, even very young ones, feel the pressure of time as adults do
[we should be careful not to over-emphasize the value of efficiency in daily life]
3. Parents are wanting/expecting their kids to take responsibility and participate in family life.
[a welcome shift from over-permissive parenting where kids have no structure or responsibility]
4. Parents  embrace the idea of technology as a “parent’s assistant.”
[some working parents may feel forced by the demands of the workplace to increasingly create a tech substitute for them at home]
5. We’re becoming a more mechanized society to manage the most routine aspects of daily living.
[this could have some positive implications, but allowing our home lives the opportunity for spontaneity vs. (only) structure seems a more enjoyable and soulful way to live]

What are your thoughts about this watch?
Would you ask your kids to use it?

I’d love to hear from you!
——

I love the idea of kids getting in the kitchen, setting the table, and participating in a family meal ritual. To me, it’s something that all families should make time for, once a day. Click here to go to my website to learn more about my book, The Shared-Meal Revolution which will give you all kinds of info about why sharing meals with your family and friends is so relevant in today’s society.  You can also browse articles you may find helpful.

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Jun 17th

The 4 ‘Magic’ Words that Fathers Can Use that Can Change Everything

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A colleague of mine, who is a brand new father, shared with me his frustrations that he hasn’t been able to get any sleep since his newborn arrived a few weeks ago. He said his wife is struggling with breastfeeding, and maybe in general to being a new mom, and he’s at a loss to help her feel better. He asked me if I had any ideas of what to say to her, besides offering resources for breastfeeding coaching, which they are already doing. My friend stopped shuffling his papers on his desk, hanging on any word I might offer to ease the situation for his wife and allow him to catch a few more Zzzzzs, too. I stopped for a moment to recycle my thoughts about my own breastfeeding and new mom experiences years ago.  Like some women, I remember very well trying to find my way, wanting to give up at times, so I could easily relate to the feelings his wife might be going through.

And naturally, since breastfeeding is really the first shared meal that a baby experiences, I really wanted to help!

I was genuinely stumped for a few minutes, wondering if anything this mother of now fully grown adults might advise that might make a difference. As I turned to leave my friend’s office promising to think about it further on my own, I remembered the 4 words that is music to my ears when I’m feeling alone and struggling.  I spun back on my heels, turned to my friend and cheerfully offered he say these simple words to his wife:

HowCanIHelp

I said, “Just put your arms around her and say, ‘How Can I Help?’….and then just sit quietly.”

We talked about how new mothers are quite often way too hard on themselves trying to be perfect for their newborns, while valiantly navigating their incredibly important new Mom role.  Sometimes all new moms want is to know someone is there who really gets it, who isn’t trying to create an instant fix, but is standing by, ready to help.

It’s a helpful reminder that all of us, in practically any situation we’re stuck on, can offer these 4 little words, this one simple phrase, to try to ease someone’s burden.  And of course, taking action, if there is something you can do.

MotherFatherBaby

My advice to anyone feeling stuck on how to help someone, regardless of the situation, always start with, “How Can I Help?”

It’s a genuine and simple way to show someone you are standing by, and can help you both break into a larger conversation of support.

A very special Father’s day to all you caring and loving dads!


There are many ways fathers can help with shared meals in their homes. Look for an upcoming blog on this topic soon! In the meantime, feel free to explore the media gallery of articles on my website for ideas on how to collaborate and strengthen your shared meals.

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