The traditional family meal was viewed as an important family event for everyone. In 1950s, most people in Canada lived in traditional family dinner homes. The main factor that made the family meal a family event was the participation of all family members. In the video 2thepast (2007), everyone in the family knows the meal time and makes effort to be punctual. Also, everyone would be involved in serving self and others on the table. The woman of the house would prepare the food. School going daughters would assist their mothers in making the dinner table. The father would assist the mother with serving food at the dinner table. Then, the big children would assist in serving dessert and clearing the table. Overall, everyone was provided a certain role in preparing or serving the family meal. What can be safely said is that most elements of the traditional family meal of the 1950s have been lost or replaced with others over the time. It has become rarer for all families members to enjoy a family meal together. In most cases, some family members would be held up somewhere or will choose to engage in other activities. In some situations, it becomes impossible for family members to enjoy a meal together because of geographical separation.
According to Levesque (2017), the Canadian eating habits are being influenced by workplace pressures and changing attitudes towards meals. In essence, the Canadian Press reporter seeks to send the message to society that people no longer place too much value to the need to take the family meal together. In her “Canadian Food Habits, Attitudes towards Meals Are Shifting”, Levesque (2017) claims that the 21st century fast life predisposes the masses to favor fast food and cafeteria over traditional family dinners.
Family togetherness must be viewed as an important agent of socialization. The sad truth is that people have lost their focus on the role of activities that build family unities – namely a shared meal – in strengthening social bonding. By showing the reluctance to nurture closeness in the family, people disregard the fact that weak social bonds can contribute negatively to the chances of getting through the hard times. In regard to a shared meal, it can be enjoyed by not only families but friends as well. Sharing a meal is widely recognized as a sign of good will and openness to one another. The traditional family meal had many aspects of social bonding (Levesque, 2017). For instance, the family members could pray before the meals. Besides, the family meal culture emphasized the need for respect and care for each other.
Many aspects of the 1950s family meal have drastically changed with time; what makes people drift away from the old way of doing things is the evolution of Canadian family structure. According to Giffen (2012), the definition of what constitutes a family has changed from the traditional view of a husband, wife and their children. For example, Canada had been recording an increasing number of single parent families, foster families and people in same-sex marriages. A family meal in these families will obviously involve a different approach because of the kind of participants. Levesque (2017) has referred to these changes as “complete disintegration of our meal habits”. For example, a single parent family constituting a mother and her child would have a unique approach to the family meal. In such cases, they are likely to customize the event to suit personal needs. The changes in family dynamics have been contributed by a new lifestyle and opportunities for pursuing personal preferences in the society. For example, a survey in Canada on meal habits showed that about 61 percent of Ontario residents eat lunch alone (Levesque, 2017).
Going by the current trend, many elements of the traditional family meal will be replaced by aspects of personal preferences. The opportunities for pursuing personal preferences are increasing and individuals can have a convenient meal in many places (Levesque, 2017). Nowadays, people communicate less with their family members and the time spent on eating together has declined to a great extent. By immersing into the issues of interest in the videos, it comes to light that they gravitate largely towards the difference between the traditional and modern family values. In the traditional family, the most important thing was togetherness and cooperation. In contrast, the new family structures are more about personal convenience. This is illustrated by the single woman claiming that she chose to separate with partner and take care of the baby alone. Yes, a half century ago the family unity was the value that counted the most. Astoundingly, family patterns changed dramatically over time, and today the growing acceptance of family diversity made the movement away from traditional practices inevitable.
In sum, it can be said with certainty that the modern world is overwhelmed with non-traditional or alternative family structures; striking changes to partnerships created prerequisites for the mass reconsideration of existing values. As such, eating together has lost its relevance, and more importantly, spending time together is now a thing of the past.
- 2thepast. (2007, December 8). 1950 Family Date, Dinner in a 1950s Home. Retrieved
- Giffen, A. (2012, September 20). Census Shows New Face of the Canadian Family.
Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daUxGr30kn8
- Levesque, L. (2017, May 19). Canadian Food Habits, Attitudes towards Meals Are
Shifting: Dalhousie Study. HuffPost. Retrieved from