What’s For Dinner?

bunny-dinnerWhen it comes to “taking precautions” we moms are all over it most of the time. If the doc tells us our kids need to sing the Happy Birthday Song twice before they stop washing their hands, no problem, we’re in. If that’s what it takes to make sure they don’t catch whatever’s going around it’s a no-brainer for us. Bike helmets, seat belts, vitamins, sunscreen–you name it, we do it. After all, it’s our job to keep them healthy and safe, right?

Well what if we told you that something as simple as having dinner together at least five times a week could significantly reduce the chances of your little dudes drinking, smoking or using drugs when they hit the teenage years? Because years of research has shown that this is exactly the case. The bad news is that by the time a child reaches age 12 those all important sit-down-together times drop by 50%.

That’s not surprising since we have been swamped by WAY too many after school activities and team sports that often get in the way of dinnertime. And it’s so easy to get sucked into thinking that all this running around will in some way benefit our kids in the long run. The truth is very few of them will make the Olympic trials or the Major Leagues. But they will all be faced repeatedly with pressure to smoke, drink and get high much sooner than you might think.

Eating together as a family gives you a chance to take a break from all the “have-tos” and create space for a “get-to.” It’s a time to share stories, tell jokes, and keep current about what’s going on. It provides a structure that helps kids feel stronger and more secure and reinforces the idea that they belong to a family that loves them and takes time each day to nourish their bodies and souls. WHO KNEW??

So make it a priority and a ritual NOW, while they are still little. Keep the television off, sit down together and help them to start learning good table manners while you’re at it. Then remember to stick to your guns and keep it going when they get to middle school and beyond. Healthyalberta.com can help you get started with some quick and easy recipes and more on this topic.

Bon appetit!

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Ellen W. Schrier, LCSW, is a family therapist and the mother of three adolescent/young adult kids.

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7 responses to “What’s For Dinner?”

  1. Betsy Carter

    Love this site and will pass it along to all my new and in-between mamas. Keep it coming.

  2. Karol Pickel

    What a great site! I LOVE it!!! It is fantastic for parents of any age and grandparents too…
    I love this article Ellen. Dinner is a very special time for our family. It’s where we all come together, enjoy a great meal and discuss with our children what is going on in their world. We have been doing this now for 22 years…We never allow interruptions during this time of day!!!

  3. Anne Coogan

    This is a wonderful resource for folks growing or supporting families. I look forward to reading more sage recommendations and sharing this site with other parents and professionals.

  4. Gina

    As a mom to two year old ID twin boys, I know this site is going to be such a wonderful resource to me. Since I don’t have much time to “chat over a cup of tea” with my other mommy friends, this site is a very nice substitute.

  5. Does Your Child Have “Affluenza?” Uh Oh.

    […] 1. Family dinnertime. Once again, it comes up as an antidote. Start right away with this habit and keep it going. Make it a priority to eat together at least 4 or 5 times per week. The research is crystal clear in demonstrating the effect on behavior, self-esteem, and overall happiness and well-being in children. […]

  6. I’m Losing Control!

    […] when she wants to and make sure that you as a family continue to do fun stuff together. Keep those all-important family dinners going at least 4 nights a week. Encourage her to join a club or two at school and take it all one […]

  7. Off To a Good Start

    […] (or reestablishing) sleep schedules, family mealtimes, and good personal hygiene habits will go a long way to keeping your child healthy and on-track. […]

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