A Single Adjustment that can Change Your Family Dynamic
Life can move fast and sometimes even healthy families breeze past the time necessary to strengthen their relationships. There are so many complex issues in a family, but there is one simple change that can strengthen your family bond immediately: Eat dinner together. Research suggests that structured family meal times can improve grades, decrease obesity and even lower the risk of drug-abuse. Here are some suggestions for how to make dinnertime great.
- Set a Goal. You are probably busy with sports, homework and other extracurricular activities, so I recommend that you set a goal and a schedule for family meal time. You may start with just two set days a week. Inform your kids that those nights are off limits for friends or activities.
- Cook and Clean Together. Lower the stress by preparing simple meals and cleaning up together. This also encourages teamwork and gives your kids the chance to be creative and make memories. And the added benefit of teaching them how to cook and clean.
- Power Off. When it’s time to sit at the table, all electronics should be turned off or put in a different room. Parents, this includes you!
- Ask the Right Questions. Conversation does not need to be forced at the dinner table, but parents can keep in mind this principle when asking questions – be specific. If you ask “how was school today?” you’ll likely get a one word answer, “fine.” Try asking “What was your favorite activity you did at school today?” or “Who is the nicest (funniest, meanest) person in your class?” And of course, be an active listener!
While dinner may improve your family dynamics, it will not help you deal with difficult issues such as divorce, blended families, mental health problems, behavior issues and others. Contact me at (770) 641-8726 if you are seeking in-depth family counseling.
Steven D Brand, Psychotherapist Roswell, GA