County Executive John Pavelski. (Contributed)

Column: Whatever happened to supper table conversation?

This column was written by request in support of National News Literacy Week, Jan. 22-26

By John Pavelski

During this National News Literacy Week, I would like to highlight a major aspect of news:  Interpretation.

In today’s world of “Fakebook,” social media, and many people believing their opinions are fact, how do we learn to discern what is fact and truth?

In an article written last February by Erica Jackson Curran, 7 Science-Based Benefits of Eating Together as a Family, she discusses the importance of eating together as a family. No matter what the family makeup — traditional two-parent, blended, or single-parent — the benefits are tremendous.

News, whether international, national, or local, is a means of communication. In her article, Curran writes, “The social interaction and discussions of current issues at the table can make kids better communicators.”

Good communication is a two-way street. Hearing, listening, and understanding what is being conveyed so you can respond appropriately so that you are understood, and a productive dialogue ensues. The goal of communication should be to create a “common union.” There is power in agreement, just like connecting multiple batteries.

The more that are connected and unified, the more powerful. Why are we a powerful nation?  Because we are the “United” States. We have agreed on precepts and principles by which to be guided for the benefit, security, and prosperity of those agreeing.

Curran also writes, “You’re communicating that you value and respect who they are.” A meal together conveys value to those you’re sharing it with. If children are raised with value, they will learn to value themselves and others, it will become part of their nature, which leads to another of her points; that a meal together will  “prevent issues with eating disorders, alcohol and substance use, violent behavior, depression, and suicidal thoughts in adolescents.”

Why do we have some of the major problems we have today? Do we value one another? Are we willing to come to a common union? Are we communicating our values to our children? Let’s shut cell phones and TVs off, and talk to each other at the supper table. We will be better citizens, families, communities, and nations.

John Pavelski is the Portage County Executive