Families come in all shapes and sizes. No matter how your family is shaped, it is important that you share regular meals with the people who are closest to you. Family dinners are great ways to connect to your loved ones without the distractions of everyday life. Turn off your cell phones and televisions and enjoy the company of those around you.
- Cook together. Family dinners don’t just mean eating together, you can cook together as well. Involving your kids in the preparation of a family meal is not only a great way to bond, but also teaches them skills in the kitchen.
- Conversation starters. These are great ways to connect after a long day. Here are a few examples:
- What are you excited to do this summer? What will you miss most about school?
- What is your favorite book that you have read in school? Why is it your favorite?
- If you were a teacher, and you could teach your students anything, what would you teach and why?
- Have you and your friends ever left someone out on purpose? Do you think that it was bullying? Why or why not?
- Did you help anyone this week? What did you do? If not, what can you do to help someone at school/camp?
- What do you feel thankful for?
- Talk, share, and listen. Talk to your kids about their day. Ask them about school, their friends, and their interests. This is also a great time to throw in teachable moments about the dangers of nicotine, alcohol and other drugs. (ex. “Did you hear about (insert name) who was arrested for driving drunk over the weekend?”)
According to the Family Dinner Project, years of scientific research document the many physical, mental health and academic benefits of family dinners. Research from Harvard links regular family meals with the kinds of behaviors parents want for their children: healthy eating habits and reduction of high-risk teenage behaviors such as drug use and teen pregnancy, lower rates of depression and anxiety, stronger resilience and self-esteem, and even higher grade point averages and better vocabularies.