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Family Dinners & the Tween Years

by Michele | March 17th, 2016 | Seasonal, Tweens

breakfast for dinnerFamily dinners. From so many of the statistics and articles you see, it seems that family dinners have gone by the wayside. With two parents working, kids involved in a multitude of sports and activities, and all the other pieces of modern life, family dinners may be less frequent. When you do have them, they may seem a bit anticlimactic. Case in point:

Setting: dinner table with parents and two tween-aged kids
Mom: How was school today?
Tween 1: Fine
Dad: What’s new?
Tween 2: Nothing
Tween 1: I’m done with dinner; can I go finish my homework?

If that is your typical dinner scene, which it may be, then that isn’t really worth the anticipation. However, dinner with tweens doesn’t have to be that painful for all. I offer a few simple suggestions to make dinner an enjoyable family experience.

  1. If possible, get your tweens involved in dinner prep. That doesn’t mean just setting the table, unless it’s something he enjoys. Ask your son to help cook dinner- make the salad, cook the hamburger for tacos, choose condiments for the hot dogs.
  2. Ask your tweens to help plan dinner menus. What do they want to see on the menu, within reason. Be open to someone creative ideas. For my kids breakfast for dinner was always a hit.
  3. Include everyone in the conversation. Don’t just discuss the frustration of your job (odds are the tweens aren’t interested), but discuss something that everyone understands.
  4. Ask the same generic question of everyone. However, do NOT make that question, “How was your day?” Try, “What was the best part of your day?” or “What was the most interesting thing you learned today?” Yes, the answer may be that lunch was the best part of the day, so ask why. Don’t you have days where lunch was the best part also?
  5. Understand that some nights, family dinner isn’t going to happen. You have late meetings on Wednesday, or your daughter has evening practice for her sport on Tuesday. So, set aside specific nights of the week that work for everyone, and make them etched in stone family dinner nights.
  6. Just because the family can’t be all together, doesn’t mean you can’t bond. At one point my son had practice from 3:00-6:00, and my daughter had practice from 5:00-8:00, almost every day. Although we obviously couldn’t eat together and I wasn’t going to eat twice, I still sat with each child and talked about our days. So, not a true family dinner but still a time to bond.

If you make family dinner an enjoyable experience, it’s bound to bring about good conversation. Many a dinner went longer than the meal during my kids’ tween years. Great evenings filled with food, conversation, and laughter. You can make it happen in your home also.

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