Our oldest is almost a teen. It’s kind of scary and for those who have been through it or are going through it, you know how odd it can be. It’s like one night he went to bed and the next morning he woke up a different person. He went from wanting to spend time with the family playing board games or watching movies to wanting to spend almost all of his time in his room or with his earbuds in. At first we were pretty concerned. We wondered if it was depression or anger, but it seems it’s just normal teen behavior and this is only the beginning. He’s still a great kid who’s thoughtful and respectful, but family time now has to “interest” him. As he’s discovering who he is individually, scarce are the days he wants to spend all of his time with us.
Communication Is Key
I know it’s natural and I’m proud to watch the young man he’s becoming, but it’s hard as a parent. While we are learning to give him his space, communication is still very important to us and it’s much harder when he’s not as interested in spending time with the family. Family dinner has always been our way of reconnecting with each other at the end of the day and now it is more important than ever. While busy schedules, homework and other commitments easily distract us from all sitting around the table together, it’s one thing we refuse to give up. While I knew it was important for our family, I didn’t realize there were studies proving the mental, behavioral and physical health benefits of them until I read an article about it recently.
Family Dinner Tips
While trying to find the time is the hardest part, especially as the kids get older, once you are at the table it can be difficult to get the communication flowing. We’ve incorporated two strategies to help us out at family dinner and perhaps you’ll find them useful. 1. No Screens At The Table. Phones, iPads, tablets, TV’s everything must be off and put away from the moment we all sit down to the moment the last person is finished with their meal. Even with the best intentions, it’s easily to get distracted if tempted and it loses the point of family dinners. 2. Best Part/Bad Part Of The Day. Each person must take turns sharing their best part of the day and worst part of the day. It’s amazing how these simple questions will then lead to conversations about things that they might not have told us or we may not have otherwise discussed.
I’m hoping sharing these tips might help another parent going through the same thing. I’d love to hear advice and comments from any of you familiar with this same situation or those who do family dinner.