family - eating together as a family

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This past weekend I attended a conference on strengthening your family. We talked of various things you can do, but one that I wanted to share was strengthening your family by eating together.

It can be really tough to get a family around the table. Between sports, dance, school, work, and personal attitudes getting a family together can be a pain sometimes and may not seem like it will make a difference. However, it does make a difference. Here are 8 more reasons you should keep pushing for family meals 5-6 times a week:

  1. model manners – mealtime as a family is a perfect place for you to show your kids the appropriate table manners for when they are in a place not so forgiving. Try to keep the mood light and don’t criticize. Try to teach by example.
  2. Expanding cultural views – mealtime is a great way to introduce cultures besides your own. it takes about 10-15 times for a child to accept a new food so keep on putting it on their plate. In our family we have a rule, you can have a lot or a little, but you have to try some. When allowing your children to help out with the meal (see number 4) they will also be more likely to try the veggie if they prepared it.
  3. nourish – when you eat out, you are rarely getting a balanced meal… not only that, how do you know the ingredients and how they cooked it? home made dinners are lower is sugar, salt and fat; and higher in vitamins and minerals.
  4. self sufficient teaching – it is the perfect place to teach your children how to be self sufficient… have them help plan dinners, make dinners, and clean up dinner. Heck, you could even have them help shop (even though you know you will spend more when they come :). Even your younger children can sit on a stool and tear lettuce, or mix batter. Having your children help gives them a sense of “ownership” to the meal and can be proud. this builds great self image.
  5. destructive behaviors – five or more family dinners a week are associated with lower rates of smoking, drinking, and illegal drug use in teens. So you know what this means… schedule!!! It can get tough with your teens, but if you want them to succeed, you need to show them you care and want to work around them.
  6. communication and well-being – conversations at the dinner table (or counter in our case) provide greater bond between parent/child relationships and even child/child relationships. it is a chance for each child to get extra and special attention from the parents. ask questions and give good and positive feedback. Again. restrain from negative comments, and criticism.
  7. improves grades – children do better at school when they eat with their parents and family. But it has to be four or more times a week together to make a difference in performance in the academics.
  8. saves money – meals purchases away from home cost 2-4 times more than meals prepared at home. I know families who eat fast food every single night, even sundays. I can’t imagine the percentage of the income in the family that goes to this habit.

Some other ideas

  • have your children have a night when they plan and prepare a meal…
  • be flexible on your menu
  • create a menu – you will save SO much money and time

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