Looking for a way to foster positive growth and development in a safe, healthy way? Pull up a chair and sit down to dinner with your family!
There is more to a family dinner than just the food. Encouraging each family member to get involved in the meal planning, prepping, and eat processes is shown to help family units bond and relationships strengthen, reports the Center for Addiction.
Include kids in prepping vegetables or preparing a salad, ask your spouse to set the table, and assign clean up duties to your teenager (but pitch in because no one enjoys doing dishes!). Make dinner a family affair and leave the electronics in the living room!
Family dinners are shown to improve interfamily relationships. Youths who have better relationships with their parents are more prone to:
- Academic achievement
- Higher self-esteem and a sense of resilience
- Lower risk of smoking, drinking, and doing drugs
- Lower risk of depression, obesity, and teen pregnancy
- Lower likelihood of developing an eating disorder
But what do you say once the table is set and the family is seated? Focus on lighter topics (sports, etc.), ask open-ended questions (“What’s your favorite family tradition?”), or take the opportunity to discuss important topics like teenage drinking and smoking.
If your schedule allows for after-dinner activities, continue these conversations while on a family walk or over an evening board game. If dinner doesn’t fit into your lifestyle, convene over breakfast or a weekend lunch. Try to gather for a meal as a family at least once a week!
The last week of February is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDA) in the United States and Canada. Bringing awareness and attention to those who have battled or continue to battle eating disorders allows them to share their experiences and struggles, and work toward a healthier outlook on food and nutrition. For more information NEDAwareness Week visit https://www.inspiremalibu.com/blog/healthy-living/national-eating-disorders-awareness-week-in-february.
For more information about dining together as a family, visit Prevention Action Alliance.