The Happy Home Alliance in Taiwan yesterday called on families to try to build a “dining table culture” to help maintain healthy and happy family relationships.
As the nation sees the breakdown of more marriages — with an average of 153 couples getting divorced daily in 2012, a record in Asia — the tradition of eating meals together becomes more important for upholding healthy and happy family intimacy, the alliance said.
Nobel laureate and former Academia Sinica president Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲), the alliance’s leading advisor, said society has traded the virtues of early agricultural society for modernity and economic advances that have ended up leaving people isolated from each other.
Eating with family members and expanding the boundary of “family” further to the community, could strengthen the bond between the members that would have positive impacts upon the young as well, Lee said.
Dalin Township (大林) Administrator Huang Chen-yu (黃貞瑜) from Chiayi County was present at the press conference and shared her experience in changing Dalin into a place where residents refer to one other as “my darling” (which is homophonic for Dalin).
Among the township’s efforts was the initiative to have elderly people whose children live and work outside of the county getting together to cook meals and dine.
People aged 66 and above, compared to other age groups, are found to have more negative feelings when asked about whether the family members are too busy to dine together and whether family members rarely express their feelings or listen to each other on the dining table, according to a survey conducted by the alliance.
The alliance also found that three-generation extended families scored higher than average when it comes to questions about feelings of happiness and bonding at the dinner table, compared to other types of families.