Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pleasant Family Meals

If you’re frustrated because your family members are headed in different directions at meal times, you’re not alone. In fact, recent research published by the American Medical Association said that less than half of children 9 – 14 years old reported having dinner with family members every day and almost 20% said they never had dinner with family members.

Most families find it increasingly difficult to sit down together over a meal. Demanding work schedules, band or softball practice and evening study dates can take up so much of everyone’s time.

But eating together plays big dividends for both parents and their children. According to Dr. Linda Bobroff at the University of Florida, shared family meals not only contribute to a healthful diet, they give children a sense of belonging, which is so critical in our world today.

There are several ways parents can ensure that the mealtimes are pleasant and relaxing. First, make a family agreement that mealtimes are for pleasant conversation. Hold discussions about difficult topics such as a child’s poor grade or marital problems for another time. Second, get rid of distractions. Turn off the television and cell phones, and let the answering machine take telephone messages during the meal.

Encourage discussion by asking each family member what he or she liked best during the day. Give each person, even the youngest, a chance to contribute to the conversation with everyone paying attention.

What a nice change from the fast food line and what a great time to spend together as a family!

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