Feeding Family Relationships.
60 Years Ago, the average family dinner time was 90 minutes, today it is less than 12 minutes. Our lives have changed, both parents may be working, we have our children in after school activities and we don't all work 9-5. We have all heard of the benefits that studies show for kids and teens who share family dinners. It is true that they do better in school and are less likely to be overweight or engage in risky behaviors like drugs, alcohol, and sexual activity. But what is it exactly about the time around the table that brings these results?
The dinner table can act as a unifier for the family. A place where everyone feels connected, a place of community. Children report better relationships with their parents and surely relationships between adults can also benefit.
Now what is a family to do if family dinner is not an option. I think we can recreate a similar benefit by purposefully making a time for this connection. Maybe a special family breakfast either during the week or on Saturday or Sunday is one option or make Friday game night or family movie night, rent a movie and provide popcorn. We want to make it a fun time and a time when you all make it a priority to be together and connect.
As a parent, especially in the teen years, you can begin to feel like all your interactions with your children is about their behavior, are they doing what is expected, you become the cop. Family time provides as opportunity to build your relationship with your child apart from performance. A time to enjoy each other without being critiqued.
Childhood is not always easy, children experience stresses in school academically as well as socially. When a child is feeling down or depressed, family time can act as an intervention. A time when we can listen to our children, give them a safe place to talk and be supported. If you have multiple children teach them to be respectful of each other. Do not allow one to put the other down, or tease to the point of hurt. We want everyone to feel that family is safe and loving.
With all the research and awareness of the benefits of the family dinner, let us be purposeful and bring something like this back in our home. We want our children to come to family for connection, love and support not anywhere else and we need to provide that opportunity.
By Lisa Strong