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Family Dinner Matters: How to Bring Everyone Back to the Table

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9875838_mlDad has to work late, Mom is picking up Sarah from ballet practice, and Sophie has to stay after school to work on her group project—and everyone’s on their own for dinner again. In today’s busy world, this family portrait is much more realistic than the Leave It To Beaver setting. But just because this is the new “norm” doesn’t mean it should be. Making time for family dinners may seem old-fashioned, but they have many benefits that are crucial for a healthy family dynamic.

People often come together over food. Whether it is a holiday, celebration, or pizza night, eating with your family creates a relaxed setting to talk to one another. It is the best way to get everyone together in one place to share your thoughts, ask how someone’s day went, and have deep, meaningful conversation. To get your family started on a dinner routine, keep the following tips in mind.

Put Dinner in Your Schedule

Even if everyone has a “full” schedule, there is still the need to take time out of your day to eat with your family. Although eating together every night is ideal, if consistently sitting down three days a week works better for your family, it is still beneficial. Instead of viewing it as an option, put family dinners into your calendar, because it is just as important as the other scheduled activities in your life.

Make Conversation Fun

If conversation is more difficult with your family, there are plenty of simple conversation starters and games you can play to get everyone talking. A round of 20 Questions or Two Truths and a Lie can come in handy when trying to get your child to say more than, “My day was fine.”

Disconnect to Reconnect

Eating a meal in front of the TV every once in awhile is okay, but it is important to have time to disconnect and have face-to-face conversation with one another. If cell phones get their own seats at the table, have everyone turn them off and stack them. If you don’t want to feel anxious every time a phone buzzes, try putting them on airplane mode so that no calls or texts can come through. Teenagers may have a difficult time with this, so rather than shutting them off, make it into a competition: the first person that grabs their phone from the pile has to do the dishes. This is a simple way to solve a tough problem.

Don’t Give Up

We are all human, so it’s okay if you miss a day or two. Don’t let it make you give up completely. If you have teenagers, they may be more reluctant to follow the trend. Rather than starting an argument about it, ask them to get involved in planning the meals or times. The more you give your son or daughter a choice in the matter, the more enjoyable to experience will be for them.

Regardless of how you organize it, having regular family dinners is the best way to bring your family together and teach your children valuable life lessons that they’ll take with them into their own homes and families someday.

If you’re having trouble getting your family to sit down together, Stenzel Clinical is here to help you find the plan that works best for you. Contact us today.