The family dinner is sadly becoming a thing of the past. My husband and I feel very strongly that our family needs to sit down to dinner together every night. While I understand that sports commitments, job schedules and other late afternoon activities make it more difficult than ever before for families to participate in this tradition, I am truly shocked at how many families have simply decided the family dinner is an obsolete idea and are comfortable with family members going in all different directions or just fending for themselves at dinner time. My oldest daughter recently decided that several of her friends’ families’ way of doing things was more attractive and began to resent my insistence that she come home to eat dinner with us as we have always done. Are you experiencing this with your own tween or teen? This article will discuss several ways to bring that teen around and help him or her see the value in family dinner.
Calmly Explain What Family Dinner Means To You. Teens can certainly tax our patience and it sometimes seems easier to just snap “Because I said so,” when challenged on a family rule, but our children truly do listen to us when we take the time to explain the reasons behind the rules. They may grumble and still try to get their own way, but take heart that our children are listening when we speak. If you truly cherish the time with your family and look forward to it all day, tell your child. If you feel that eating dinner together every night is essential to the closeness you share, be sure to tell them that also. Let your teen know that you consider proper nutrition irreplaceable and that forgoing a healthy family dinner in favor of fast food or just randomly picking at items in the pantry to satisfy hunger is not conducive to a healthy lifestyle.
Be A Bit Flexible About Meal Time. If your teen is simply complaining about having to sit down to family dinner because you generally eat at five and his or her friends get together until five thirty every evening, consider pushing dinner back. If having dinner a half hour or so later will bring a happy teen to the table instead of a sullen one, it is well worth it.
Make Dinner Time A Relaxed And Fun Event. Dinner time is not the time to discuss poor grades or missed chores. If all your teen has to look forward to at family dinner is being told all he or she is doing wrong, it will surely not be something they look forward to. Keep the conversation as light and pleasant as possible. Discussing the news of the day or planning upcoming events with as positive an attitude as possible will go a long way towards making your teen feel much more positive about family dinner.
Make A Few Of Your Teen’s Favorite Meals. I am not suggesting that you cater your dinner menus to your teen every night, but including a few of his or her favorites during the week will surely make them much more receptive to coming home happily and on time for your family dinner. Be sure to let your child ahead of time that you will be having chicken parm or pork chops on the grill for dinner that night. Your teen will be much more apt to have a positive attitude towards family dinner those nights!
Children often try to rebel against their parents’ rules during the turbulent teen years. They will never admit it, but a stable home life with consistency and time with their parents helps to make them feel secure when everything else seems to be topsy turvy. Employing these tips may make the family dinner struggle one that passes quickly.