There is a saying that ‘a good father gets down to his children’s level’. This really came to light recently at my son’s 35th birthday dinner.
Even though it was a birthday party for an adult, it was one of the most child-friendly parties I have ever been to.
The table was only 400mm high, in a traditional Thai, sit-on-the-floor-and-eat style. In other words, the table’s height suited young children, especially babies and toddlers. The short table made it special because the table also became a cubby house the children could play under.
This particular son and his wife have three children: a baby boy just past one and starting to walk, a three-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl. Another of my sons and his wife also attended the birthday party with their 5 girls, ranging in age from 2 to 11 years old.
The one year old crawled backwards and forwards under the table into dad’s or grandads’ arms. He didn’t have a high chair, but we brought his low chair, so he felt free and not constricted. Yes, it got messy, but it was fun.
The restaurant staff didn’t seem to mind the mayhem and mess. Not only that but all the adults were on the children’s level. We ate and laughed together, played hide and seek, under the table, and above. I played monsters with my 3-year-old grandson, which he always enjoys. The party, from a child’s point of view was a roaring success.
Interestingly, this was not a children’s party as such. It was a celebration of Dad’s birthday, but because it was a sit on the floor meal, all the adults and children were on the same level.
You might think it is unusual to sit on the floor to eat with your family, but such an eating style is customary, not only in Thailand but China, Japan, India, Pakistan, Iran, some parts of Arabia and many parts of South East Asia.
The website ‘Wholesome Ayurveda’ details nine significant benefits of eating your food on the floor in a cross-legged position, and almost all of them make sense to me.
- It is an ancient yoga position (not so sure about this one but let’s take it on face value)
- Helps to improve digestion
- Controls the excessive consumption of food, aids in weight loss
- Makes you more flexible
- Aids in mindful eating
- Improves the body posture
- Keeps knee and hip joints healthy
- Makes the heart stronger and improves circulation
- It’s humbling.
I believe that the last one is important for us as fathers to grasp. You need to think about what fathers look like to small children. Children might think that they live in a world of giants. If those giants are always telling them what to do and how to behave, it could be quite oppressive. So, it is important for us as fathers to get down to our children’s level.
Whenever my grandchildren run to greet me, I try to kneel down to their level and hug them. They love it, all children do.
It is important for fathers to do the same and get on the ground with their children when playing.
Trust me, they will appreciate you for it.
Point 9, I believe, is the key to being a good father. Humility is everything. As fathers, it is best not to take ourselves too seriously. We need to hold our leadership role in the family lightly.
The best leaders are always humble, as are the best dads. That’s why eating on the floor with your family is a good idea for more reasons than one.
I’m not against table and chairs, but picnics on a rug with your children sure can be fun. Eating on the floor, especially with a small table, with your family can also be fun and very therapeutic.
So, let’s take a lesson from our Thai friends and have a meal on the floor from time to time with our children. You could use your coffee table as the main table?
You could even take your children out to a restaurant that features sit on the floor meals. Your children will have fun and think of the health benefits!
Remember to get down on the floor and play with your children. They will enjoy it and so will you.
Let’s remember the words of Abraham Lincoln who said, “No man is so tall as when he stoops to help a child”.
Yours for our children