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Family Dinner

Family Dinner

Last week Robert came across an article by Laurie David and Grace R. Freedman, Ph.D., for the Huffington Post. It explored a possible link between childhood obesity and the near absence of the traditional family dinner. With most parents working outside the home these days, families have complicated, busy schedules, so more and more kids are eating on the go – fast meals with little nutritional value. David and Freedman write, “Regular, routine meals add structure to a child’s day (and to that of the parents), and from this structure stems a myriad of health and social benefits, including better relationships with peers and adults, better grades at school, and less likelihood of using drugs, alcohol or cigarettes… Children (and adults) who have regular mealtimes, with the television turned off and conversation turned on, are also far less likely to be overweight, less likely to have eating disorders, and are more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables than are those who eat alone or on the run.” (Read the full article here…)

This got us thinking about the incredible value of a routine family dinner for families in transition. If a routine family dinner can help kids and parents develop healthier eating habits and better social skills, then it must be of paramount importance for a family experiencing a breakup to adopt this simple ritual. Children of divorcing parents are often frightened and confused. Even when they say they’re fine, they’re unsure of their future, uncomfortable with changes they have no control over, and sorely in need of comfort and consistency from both parents. What better way to grant them that than for you (during your custodial time) to sit down with them over dinner and talk about their day, the best parts, the worst parts, and everything in between? It’s a no-frills idea that could have a hugely positive impact on your relationship with your children, while at the same time helping them (and yourself) heal from the divorce.

 

Best wishes,
Ron Supancic CFLS

Checklist for Healthy Families

It’s easy to get caught up in the blame-game. It’s easy to focus on what our partner does wrong, the things that frustrate us, the things that make us angry. But if we all spent a little time and energy focusing on what our partner does right, what makes us feel good and loved, we’d all be a lot happier. This checklist for healthy families is designed to help couples and families work on the positive aspects of their relationships so that the good will so outweigh the bad that the bad won’t even be noticeable. Print this list and tape it to your bathroom mirror, or your closet door, or your dashboard – somewhere you will see it and read it on a daily basis. Make it a priority to try and work on one item a day. If you do, you will be surprised at the difference you will see in your day to day life.

1. Work on positives; eliminate negatives. Successful adults are people who grew up in homes that kept positive focus.

2. “Act as if…” Decide that your day will be a good one and act accordingly. Act as if you want to get out of bed. Act as if things will go well. This exercise sometimes brings astounding results.

3. Live in the NOW. Focusing on the past or future is an unhealthy practice. Successful families live in the present.

4. Learn to process anger. When the feeling comes, say, “I feel furious! What you have done enrages me!” This is much more effective than calling the offender names, and it still allows for the release of powerful emotions that must be expressed.

5. Make a list of at least eighteen things that especially please you. Spouses who make and share such lists with each other often find real surprises – and find new ways to enjoy each other.

6. Know where you are going. Families need to meet and talk together to establish agreed-upon goals for themselves.

7. Take the initiative. Make plans for the family. Think of things to do and places to go.

8. Practice good communication. Make plans as a family. Share the planning activities regularly. Sit down for full-fledged conversations. Practice writing out things you want to say to each other. Remember that listening is nine-tenths of good communication.

9. Avoid accusation, blaming, and name-calling. The hallmark of emotional maturity is the ability to accept responsibility for oneself, eliminating the need for a scapegoat.

10. Don’t be afraid to seek help in formal or informal settings. In my own effort to grow as a person, I have found that professional help from time to time expedites the maturing process. I know I need help: from God, from trusted friends, and from competent therapists.