Feb 292012

Having dinner as a family is good for your kids… and the menu is only part of the story.

Do you set (and observe) family rules and rituals?  Try to set an example that reflects your spiritual values?   Eat dinner together most nights?

Yes?  Congratulations: you’ve already taken important steps  to help prevent substance abuse and other high-risk teen behavior in your teens.  And although that sounds like common sense, there’s plenty of research to back it up.

According the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) teens who have dinner with their families at least five nights a week are almost twice as likely to do well in school. Teens who earn A’s and B’s are at half the risk (of substance abuse) as those who receive grades of ‘C’ or lower.

The ‘frequent diners’ polled were also significantly less likely to have tried cigarettes, marijuana or alcohol.

I may have a somewhat biased point of view but doesn’t this structure, spirit and connection sound a bit like the Four Foundations?

  • Work hard
  • Refuse to fail
  • Develop discipline and
  • Give to others

Unfortunately, when it comes to preventing any illness, there are no iron-clad guarantees.  Addiction (to alcohol and other drugs) is a brain disorder.   Good parenting can perhaps swing the odds in your child’s favor, just like proper diet and exercise can improve our odds against obesity, heart disease or diabetes.

Managing risk factors improves the odds.  And you get to have dinner with the people you love most, too!

English: Broccoli and its cross section isolat...

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Jul 302010

By now, you must have heard about the value of eating dinner as a family. It is a valuable time during which families bond and share. If your dialogue ever gets mundane and you’re looking for a “pick up”, you might choose some of these topics to create new discussions.

1. Pick a current news story that is appropriate for your kids. Ask them what they think about it. What would they do to solve issues or problems, or create better circumstances? Done regularly, you will train your child’s brain on “thinking and problem solving”.

2. Have every member of the family share the best and worst part of their day. Push further to assess for what learning can come of these situations, how to repeat successes or make changes.

3. Ask your kids what they would do with a million dollar cash prize. If they stop at all the materialism, you could ask them how they would use the money for kind acts or philanthropy. Help expand their thinking beyond their own little world.

4. Introduce a word of the day and its meaning. Ask everyone to come up with a (humorous if possible) sentence using the word.

5. Ask them who their least favorite teacher is. Find out why and ask your child how they would do things differently if they were teaching. This will give parents a bird’s eye view into the classroom.

6. Ask your child who they ate lunch with. After you get the names, go deeper and ask your child what they appreciate about the person. Avoid asking what your child would change about another person. The only person your child can change is themselves and the sooner they learn this the easier they can manage their own life and stop fighting useless battles.

7. Ask your child to share interesting points in a book they are reading. Ask them to share why they find it so interesting. Sometimes parents can learn about new interests that impact their child. As new hobbies or interests emerge, parents can find new ways to support their child.

It is important for each person to have uninterrupted time to express themselves. It is also vital to respect each other even if there is disagreement. Parents can reinforce good ideas and challenge perceived weaknesses.

Most importantly, keep it light, have fun, and enjoy your dinner.

Keyuri Joshi (pronounced Kay-yuri Joe-she) is an Atlanta-based Parenting Coach and author of the On The Ball Parent blog. We are lucky to have her!