By David Fleet
Cindy and Chris Maldonado along with their teenage daughters Gabi and Nadine are trend setters by sitting down and simply having supper—together.
“No doubt we are very busy,” said Cindy. “Chris is gone to work all day, Nadine has a job after school and Gabi has music lessons. But, it’s important to us that we sit down for a family meal. We take that time to share our day—but yes, it’s a challenge.”
This year St. Anne 825 S. Ortonville Road, Ortonville along with other Catholic communities are celebrating, “The Year of the Family.” The parish council at St. Anne is challenging area families, like the Maldonado’s at least once-a-week to share a meal. The mission is also reflected in a study recently published in Atlantic Weekly that found a decline in American families eating dinner together on a regular basis is now less than 50 percent.
“Make it a non-technology meal,” said Kathleen Russell, parish council chair. “Try to have every member of the family participate in the table talk.”
Russell and the council recognize that youth today are busy with sports, school and social schedules. Couple that with parents who both work often leads to fragmented or no dinner arraignments.
“Our goal is focus on the family dinner for 52 weeks where they talk about the favorite part of their day,” she said. “It’s the Year of the Family and it starts at home, one day, one meal at a time.”
Cindy Maldonado of Springfield Township says they strive for three to four meals together each week.
Cindy along with husband Chris have been parishioners at St. Anne for about 17 years. Their two daughters, Nadine, 16 is a sophomore and Gabi, 14, an eighth grade student. Both attend Clarkston Area Schools.
Cindy emphasized that the family conversation which ranges from sharing interactions that take place between peers at school, to discussions of unhealthy relationships of other students to casual chatting is just conversation rather than an inquisition. There are no cell phones at the table and once a week the daughters, as a team, are responsible for making the evening meal.
“There’s a lot more than academics going on at school,” she said. “What we share is not going to be judged or attacked, otherwise they shut down. It really takes trust and time to get there. It’s about everyone in the family being good listeners and open to a lot of different things.”
Cindy said that once a week someone outside the family is invited to have dinner.
“Often it’s an individual that may not have a family to have dinner with,” she said. “It’s a way for us to reach out.”