Thanksgiving on Thursday is the ultimate family dinner of the year. Thanksgiving is a reminder to keep family dinner — or breakfast — sacred, even if your kids/teens resist.
Every family dinner will not be perfect. I can remember many the argument among the kids or me falling prey to a power struggle with my oldest daughter during a family dinner. Family dinners are worth the effort even if they’re not Thanksgiving Day-perfect because they keep kids connected to us.
When kids have a strong connection to parents they are less likely to use and abuse drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Study after study has demonstrated the efficacy of family dinner. This study is famous and persuasive.
Having family dinner or breakfast three or more times a week connects families AND it insures kids receive better nutrition.
Family dinner benefits kids socially, psychologically and physically. How can you go wrong? Start with the goal of having one family dinner a week. Use a family meeting to get the kids involved in planning, preparing and cleaning up the dinner so it doesn’t all fall on mom’s or dad’s lap. Encourage your kids to cook something for the dinner, either with you or independently, depending on their age. Make it their responsibility to help clean up.
Make family dinner or breakfast a habit. Turn off the electronics (parents, too), tell stories, look at each other, enjoy and appreciate each other and the food. Fight if you must – it shows you are emotionally connected. Take the time to resolve it, too, and come up with a plan to keep the peace during dinner.
Thanksgiving Day tips for families
1. Remember to involve the kids and teens when getting ready for the big meal this week. It won’t feel like a chore when they are contributing with the adults to create a wonderful meal, day and memory. The kids will feel connected, capable and creative.
2. Don’t force them to eat anything. Offer new foods and keep a neutral expression if they reject them. You can say, “Taste buds change.”
3. Teach them before Thursday how to say, “No thank you,” instead of, “Yuck, I hate that!” and how to say, “Aunt Sue, please pass the butter,” instead of standing up to get it. Even little kids can learn basic manners when parents model them.