Days can be so hectic that it may be difficult to devote time to family dinners. As children grow older, parents may modify parenting styles, but family dinners should still remain unchanged. Although eating dinner together may sound so simple, it can do a lot in terms of the overall health and well-being of the entire family.
According to research, families who dine together may encourage healthy eating habits in children. Many family meals are home-cooked, and children tend to eat more fruits and vegetables. It also lessens the amount of unhealthy food items that children consume. With so many children becoming overweight, parents need to make family dinners a priority. If proper eating habits are encouraged early, it may also decrease the risk of children developing problems, related to too much weight or unhealthy eating patterns. It may even set your child for a lifetime of healthy eating habits.
Dining together is also one way of keeping communication lines open. It is a very good way to be involved in your child’s life. After school or work at the end of the day, family dinners may be a good opportunity to share thoughts or views on certain matters. Studies have shown that children, who regularly ate with their families, were more likely to get better grades, and were less likely to develop depression. More importantly, these children were also less likely to use cigarettes, alcohol and illegal drugs.
If you think that dining together involves a lot of hard work, try to set simple goals and get everyone involved. Try to eat at least four meals together, and plan your meals so that you can purchase healthy ingredients ahead of time. Make it a point to include plenty of fruits and vegetables in your meals. Look for easy to do recipes that are tasty and healthy, and make sure that you pay attention to portion sizes.
It is also equally important that you minimize distractions. The television should be turned off, and your children should get your undivided attention. Try to talk about the challenges that your kids encountered during the day. You may even ask about any upcoming events at school, or deadlines that need to be met. Offer help just in case your kids may need your assistance or suggestions, regarding big projects or other tasks. You may even ask for suggestions as to what they would like to have for dinner.
Set the right mood during meal times, and try to avoid discussing issues that may ruin your bonding time. If you need to talk to your child regarding a sensitive issue, your child may be more comfortable, when you can talk to him or her in private. It may also be the best time to talk about family activities, which you can do during your free time. This will further strengthen your bond as a family.
There will be times when your schedule will get in the way in preparing meals. If you are so short of time, do not feel bad if you need to order take-out. What is important is that you still eat dinner together as a family. Reviving the practice of eating family dinners may entail some effort. However, it is a relatively simple step, in making sure that your children are assured of healthy habits, which may last through life.