If Family Dinners Are Important, Then Make Them Fun
Almost everyone can acknowledge that there is something special about having the entire family at the dinner table. Almost all American holiday traditions center around a meal around which the entire family gathers. For some kids, family dinners are remembered as awkward, or even stressful, where what should be simple family dinner conversation can quickly turn into interrogation.
CASA, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, touts that the importance of family dinners goes beyond family bonding, and can have an affect on how children grow up. A national survey of teens and their parents revealed the importance of family dinners extended to better grades, and reduced chances for smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and engaging in illegal activities.
If family dinner is truly important to the health and wellness of our children, then should we be making an effort to have fun family dinners? Having dinner with your family and making it a fun event can have many benefits. When families take the time to interact without distraction by television or electronics, then children and their parents have the opportunity to talk to one another, share ideas, concerns, and hopefully relax.
So how can we all have more fun family dinners and reap those benefits? Here are a few quick ideas that you can use at your next family meal to make it more enjoyable for everyone.
1. Play some music! Not only is it a conversation starter, but it can be relaxing or energizing depending on what you listen to.
2. Keep it lighthearted! A family dinner should not be the time to harp on your kid about his bad grades. Leave that to a private discussion some other time and focus instead on what is going well.
3. Make the food more fun! Fondue, a spread of different appetizers, or stations for making your own pizza can be great ways to have more fun while you eat your food. This breaks tension and makes mealtime more enjoyable.
Most importantly, eat together as often as possible as long as everyone enjoys it. If three nights a week are as many nights as your kids will tolerate having to talk to their parents, then it might not be wise to push it. Gauge reactions, try to spice it up, and take advantage of quality family time around the table.