Make Time for the Family Dinner
The family dinner used to be routine, but with busy schedules, it is becoming a rare occurrence in some homes. It is sometimes easier to have everyone eat when they can, where they can. However, researchers have found you may want to put the Family Dinner back on your to do list.
According to a 2012 white paper published by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia) on the Importance of Family Dinners, teens who regularly ate dinner with their family reaped significant mental health benefits. These teens were less likely to have used marijuana or alcohol, have less stress, and higher grades. They were also more likely to say they have an excellent relationship with their parents.
So how do you make your family meal about more than just eating?
Turn off the Technology
These days it isn’t unusual to have a conversation with the top of your teen’s head. They are bent over their phone texting, tweeting, or just surfing and giving you a small portion of their attention. At dinner time, make it a rule that everyone turns off any and all technology. This includes Mom and Dad.
Make Conversation the Rule
When my children were younger, we had a special plate that went to a different person each supper. At the beginning of the meal, the other family members would say something nice about the plate holder. This would often lead to stories about special memories or funny family moments. The conversation always flowed smoothly after that. Think of ways to start conversations that can’t be answered with ‘Fine’. It is amazing what you can learn about each other sitting around the dinner table.
There are many ways to get a meal on the table quickly nowadays. This can allow for more time to eat. A crockpot can have dinner waiting for you when you get home. A pressure cooker can reduce cooking time. Use products such as pre-cut veggies from the store to reduce or eliminate time eating prep work. You can also make cooking a family affair and extend the together time.
Don’t just think Supper
If you find that sitting down to supper just won’t work for your family, think about other meals. Can you sit down to breakfast? How about brunch on the weekends? It isn’t the time of day you sit down together. It is the time you spend around a table talking and eating.
As you are making your schedule for next week, pencil in some family meals. You never know what you might learn about your kids. You never know what story will be the one to stay with them forever. You never know what moment will be a cherished memory.