Posted tagged ‘family dinner’

Family dinners are a the mother lode

August 28, 2012

I’ve just finished going over the manuscript for “Raising Able: How chores empower families” for about the 25th time to prepare to publish it on Amazon’s Create Space, where it’s available on Kindle and print-on-demand.

It has caused me to re-read the book, published more than two years ago. There are some great stories and examples to prove that family chores, family dinner and family meetings provide a solid foundation for your crew, for life.

YES it takes time to plan dinner and make it. Get them involved. See this blog post for ideas on how to make it easier. This photo of my gang on the blog along with ideas to make family dinner easier, especially as school starts and schedules start to collide.

Family dinner is one of the most important and powerful traditions. Here's the author of "Raising ABle: How chores empower families" sharing a dinner with her four grown children and their boyfriends and girlfriends.

The lure of family dinner never wears off. This was taken at our daughter’s apartment where she had cooked us dinner.

My tips to make family dinner easier:

1. Plan dinner in the morning or the night before if you work outside of the home. Make use of a crock pot, time bake and kids at home after school to put on the potatoes and make pizza dough.

2. Involve tots-to-teens in every step of planning, preparation and cleanup. Use family meetings to plan menus and volunteer to cook and cleanup.

3. Eat family-friendly meals and encourage and expect them to try new foods, within reason.

4. Encourage them to start cooking independently as soon as possible. Buy ingredients they need, experiment and have fun. Don’t complain about the mess! Compliment the chef. Eat their food with gusto. You’ll be developing confidence and a lifetime skill and avocation.

5. Learn to stock your pantry, freezer and fridge so you can cook from what’s on hand. Learning to cook from what’s on hand is an art, too.

Bon appetite!

 

One more thing on a parent’s TO DO list

May 29, 2012
Children, tweens, teens, teenagers and preschoolers can learn about manners at home from parents. it takes repetition. It takes family dinners. Parenting is about repetition. good parenting is about doing things over and over. "manners and kids" is important. Do not underestimate it. Teach manners at home during family dinner.

Teaching your kids manners takes repetition, modeling and reinforcement. Nothing about good parenting comes easy, free or cheap.

Yesterday a young visitor shook hands when we were introduced. “Wow, a firm grip and you’re looking me square in the eye,” I said, returning the courtesy to the 15-year-old.

I turned to his parents and said, “Nice job. He knows how to greet people. My brother Jim taught me a long time ago, Firm grip and square in the eye.” This simple gesture says, “I care about how you feel.” That’s the essence of manners.

My seventh grade science teacher Mrs. Lewis used to bemoan about misbehaving students, “Lack of home training.”

I agree. Don’t go overboard, either like a manners cops, demanding a please-and-thank-you every other minute. All I ask is for kids to make eye contact and pleasant conversation; to unobtrusively say, “No thank you” if they don’t something; and to chew with their mouths closed.

Like most good parenting habits, teaching manners requires role models, repetition and reinforcement. Family dinner is an ideal place to model, repeat and reinforce consideration for each other and the cook. It’s not a chore to teach manners, it’s a practice.

When the snacks were gone and the gathering nearly over at 4 pm, I set out a wedge of gourmet cheese. An 11-year-old asked nicely, “Is there any real food?”

I offered my standard option to those who don’t want what is served. “Would you like a peanut and butter and jelly sandwich?”

Hungry from swimming, she accepted. I put some frozen bread in the toaster and got out the peanut butter and jelly. She assembled it, said, “Mmm. Good jam!” and ate it unobtrusively.

That’s my kind of kid. Appreciative, asked nicely for what she wanted, and accepted what was offered. She showed good home training.

Manners are like exercise — do regularly for the best results. And keep at it.

Thanksgiving Day can last all year round

November 21, 2011
family dinner is one of the best ways to connect with each other at tHanksgiving and every other day of the year. Family dinner with toddlers, preschoolers, school age, tweens, teens, teenagers and adolescencts means less drug abuse, less alcohol and tobacco abuse. Family dinner is one of the best ways to connect with your teens and children and keep them off the street and out of trouble. Family dinner is  place to absorb manners, values and behavior.
Family dinner isn’t only for Thanksgiving Day.

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.

How to manage carnal emotions & behavior

May 23, 2011
The best way to discipline toddlers, teens, school age and tweens and children is to change your behavior. You cannot change their bevhavior. Spanking, yelling, threatening, and getting angry are fruitless. Children respond to kindness, firmness, love and consistency. They're very hard to provide. "Alfred Adler" "Jane Nelsen" and "Love and Logic" all say to give plenty of love and to change YOUR BEHAVIOR. Parenting is about being a behavior manager. Start by managing your behavior
The family dog Gonzo and her biggest fan, Kristen, share a moment of unconditional love. Managing a pet’s behavior is a lot like managing children’s behavior.

One of my favorite reminders is this: manage your emotions.  Easy to say, hard to do, especially when our children know how to push our emotional buttons.

The art of management is to get other creatures to do what you want them to do. HOW you do this depends on your style.
An article in the Boston Globe’s G section May 21 about cats, which are notoriously hard to manage, led with the headline, “You may think your cat’s the problem, but maybe it’s you.”
SO TRUE!  The excellent article gives five ways to manage your cat’s behavior that will help parents to manage their behavior and emotions so they’re more consistent and less frustrated.
1. Have fun together.  I’m not sure how cat owners can hunt, catch and kill with their owners. However, parents can transform their relationship with their children by investing five to 15 minutes a day of positive time with their children, with no electronics, nagging, or criticism.
2. Get the cat a Netflix subscription to give her something to do when you’re not around. Watching movies together can be good family time, although I prefer more interactive and active ways to enjoy being together.
3. Serve meals. “Cats thrive on the daily ritual of meals.” So do humans. Have family dinner or breakfast together as many days of the week as possible. Research shows kids with more family dinners have less drug, alcohol and tobacco use. They’re more connected to their families, the single most effective way to manage your offspring to do what you want them to do.
4. Be positive. “Your can always say ‘no’ but there has to be a ‘yes’ directly behind it,” says cat behavior expert Jackson Galaxy of Animal Planet. Kids need parents to say “NO” to set boundaries so they feel safe. Don’t feel guilty about it or the need to follow it with a  “YES.” Kind, firm and consistent boundaries are a gift and a parental obligation. It’s the verbal put-downs, threats, sarcasm, whining, nagging and criticism from parents that erode the relationship. Parents must manage their emotions, thoughts, words and deeds around their children. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all.
5. Understand your cat. This is critical for the parent-child relationship. Don’t expect too much or too little from your children. They will rise or sink to your expectations. This is where reading books, parenting skills groups and super nanny coaching can help. I can help you with all three :-)
Parenting skills groups, books and other mothers helped me manage my emotions and children so motherhood became a joy and challenge, not a source of angst and frustration.

Teen party gone awry

March 25, 2010
Imagine coming home from a dream vacation in Paris and finding flour in toilets, urine on beds, blood on the floor, holes punched through walls and ceilings, computers, jewelry  and video games stolen — some $45,000 in damages.
Parents in East Bridgewater, Mass. faced this scenario in February.
Even worse, the teen who hosted the party told police the names of the uninvited guests, who responded on Facebook  with cyber-bullying, mocking the destruction.
Situations like this give teens a bad reputation and incite fear in the hearts of parents of children of all ages.
The quote that really got me was this: “There are no consequences, and that’s why they keep doing what they’re doing.”
One of the ringleaders has a string of charges against him, but no criminal record. His parents have repeatedly bailed him so he can continue his rampage, including intimidating the host of the party who is now afraid to go to school or the prom.
The party host said he didn’t call police when the uninvited guests showed up because he feared getting beaten up.
My advice to parents is to “Prepare, don’t despair for the teenage years.”
What does prepare look like?
1. Start with having family meetings to divvy up chores. Cleaning toilets and picking up dog manure from the lawn teach a child self-discipline, humility and a work ethic.
2. Have family dinner at least three nights a week. This cuts in half the time between after school and bedtime for them to get into trouble. It is a touchstone to you and your values.
3. Don’t buy your child’s way out of every problem. If a youth is charged with larceny, shoplifting and malicious destruction of property, make him earn money to pay restitution. Do not let him pass go, do not give him $200 until he complies.
This party-turned-nightmare shows that buffering a young person from problems he creates, the behavior will escalate.
I volunteer in prisons and meet men and women sentenced as teenagers because they were caught up in the wrong crowd and made bad decisions as teenagers.
Parents can teach young people  to make good decisions.
 
 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 255 other followers