Sitting Down to Dinner With Your Kids
It's no secret that today's fast-paced lifestyle doesn't lend itself well to sitting down to dinner with your family every night. If you can make time for it, however, the benefits may prove greater than you'd think.
Regular dinners stimulate conversation and communication in the household throughout the day, and encourage kids to make better food choices, claims Miriam Weinstein, author of "The Surprising Power of Family Supper."
Experts further agree that the family who dines together five times a week benefits kids' nutrition, the kids make better grades, and -- according to The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) -- their risk of smoking, drinking or using drugs is cut in half.
What are the elements of a successful family dinner? Create an enjoyable atmosphere by starting dinner with a ritual -- a prayer, lighting a candle, reciting a poem, or taking turns to relay the details of day.
Set ground rules: no cell phones are allowed, no interrupting, and televisions and radios are turned off. Agree to leave arguments and heavy topics aside for another time. If you think you might hit too many dry patches, consider such conversation jump-starters as questions posed for all to answer on a deck of cards called Table Topics.
Lastly, commit to a meal's start time and stay consistent with it, and assign duties from setting the table to cleaning up.