Welcome to our Faith Full Friday celebration of the Month of the Military Child! Today we join Andrea Plotner as she reminds us why survival mode should include supper for our military kids.
Survival Mode Should Include Supper
by Andrea Plotner
We’re celebrating the Month of the Military Child at Planting Roots, and I want to share something I learned while parenting during military life.
Mealtime matters for children…even if it’s cheese, crackers, and grapes.
Recognize that when I say supper matters, I mean meal times, the times around a family table. After all, the table is where family members can be seen, heard, known, and loved. A table is also a place where “highs and lows” can be shared and where values are passed along.
- Studies show that family mealtimes are the single most significant factor positively affecting grades and achievement scores.
- Time around the table staves off behavioral problems, substance abuse, and obesity.
- Families who eat together are statistically closer as a family unit, with children more resistant to peer pressure.
Children need stability and reliable routines–especially military children–and we all need to eat. Mealtimes are a central habit or practice that makes a house a home.
And that is crucial for our military kids since they endure so much change.
God Sets the Table
Our theme verse of the year is Joshua 21:45 which says, “Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.” The topic of mealtime makes the phrase “house of Israel” jump out to me.
There’s something to be said for being a family and having a sense of people, place, and belonging.
Military life can make us feel displaced or vagrant in many ways, but the family table brings us home, knits our hearts together, and gives us a shared identity. Psalm 23 says that God, our Good Shepherd, “prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies.” Similarly, we can shepherd or parent our children by nourishing their bodies and souls even amid the stressors of military life.
Military stressors look different in each season, each household, and each heart, but are soothed when we gather together around food, with a healthy dose of fun thrown in.
But here’s the struggle and how it often played out for us during our military years.
When one or more parents is away–training, deployed, working long hours, etc.–the house goes into Survival Mode, which for us meant “helpie-selfie” meals i.e. reaching into the fridge or cupboard whenever you’re hungry.
In this scenario, everyone sort of co-exists without really coming together in meaningful ways.
The problem here is that the military child effectively loses regular contact with not only one parent but two.
So here is my motto:
survival mode should include supper
And again, I am using the word supper to encompass all mealtimes, which means breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be as simple as a microwaved burrito; the goal is to be together as a family.
Mealtimes are a crucial bonding time and should be treated that way. One thing I appreciate all the more now that our boys are young adults is that we don’t just raise children. We raise adults. We want to send them into the world (and the world to come) with all the love, security, and stability we have to give.
Mealtime does not just fill their stomachs today; it fuels their soul for the many tomorrows to come.
Lord God, father of the house of Israel, you are kindhearted and feed your children practically and spiritually. You “prepare a table for us in the presence of our enemies” (Psalm 23). Help us to parent our children similarly–nourishing their bodies and souls. Though military life can often send us into “survival mode,” help us summon the strength to make it survival mode with supper. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Notes and Resources
- Read the introduction for Month of the Military Child here.
- Read the introduction for our Faith Full Friday series here.
- Find our Topical Resource Lists here.