COVID-19 & Mental Health: Video #19 – Family Dinners |Profound positive results

If I could offer you some simple advice as a parent – eat family dinners as much as you can. This is video #19 in a series I am doing on how how to have good mental health during this COVID-19 season we find ourselves in. The goal is to provide you with daily, simple, reproducible ways you can help your own mental health. Today I want to encourage you to have daily family dinners.

I was shocked at a conversation I had with a father about 8 months ago. After my Parenting talk, he asked me a question on Zoom. He said do you want to know the most revolutionary thing you said in your talk today. He said it was the idea of family dinners. He’s married with 3 teenagers. He said for each meal they put food like a buffet on the kitchen table and the 3 kids go to their rooms and he and his wife watch TV. Other than occasions like Christian and Easter they never eat as a family together. He then went on to express all of the disconnects in his family. Family dinners are not a magical thing that fixes all issues in your family. They are, however, an incredibly protective factor that can improve so many things in your home. Check out this video linked above.

For those of you who do not know what to talk about here is a simple game called Rose, Bud, Thorn. This is a simple conversation starter where you all (Parents included) talk about your day in 3 ways:
Rose – What is something good that happened today?
Bud – What is something you are looking forward to in life?
Thorn – What is something bad/tough/discouraging that happened today?

Here is another list of questions for your family dinners from a blog post called 50 Family Dinner Conversation Starters (Questions to ask your kids). Click here for the entire blog

50 Family Dinner Conversation Starters:

What was the best part of your day?

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

If you could be a famous person for a week, who would you be and why?

If you could have any superpower, which would you choose?

If you had one wish (and you can’t wish for more wishes), what would you wish for and why?

If you could eat just one food everyday for a month and nothing else, what would it be?

What is your biggest fear?

What is one way you helped another person today?

If you could trade places with your parents for a day, what would you do differently?

If you could have one dream come true, what would it be?

Some benefits to family dinners can be seen in this study below.

Recent studies show that family mealtime contributes to a higher consumption of healthy food and protects against the development of inappropriate eating habits among children and adolescents stimulating a greater availability of fruit and vegetables (FV) intake and less consumption of sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages. There is also evidence of its impact on reducing obesity: studies with children who received intervention related to the promotion of healthy family mealtime along with responsible parents or guardians, presented a reduction in excess weight at the end of the follow-up; in addition to the associations of reduced activities and the time spent in front of the television. Another important role is family mealtime to protect against psychosocial disorders, common in certain stages at childhood and especially in adolescence: the association between the habit to have family mealtime and lower occurrence of eating disorders, alcohol and drug use, depressive symptoms and risk factors for suicide between adolescents is emphasized in different studies.

Despite these described benefits in international literature, a low prevalence of family mealtime in households with children is frequently documented. For example, American population data analysis show a prevalence of only 49% of one daily family mealtime. The current contemporary routine favors habits that contradict family mealtime with more and faster ready-made meals.

Does family mealtime have a protective effect on obesity and good eating habits in young people? A 2000-2016 review. Click here for the study.

How can you have more family dinners together this week?

An early video I did on this topic of family dinners – Click Here.

This is another video I did on family dinners and technology – Click Here

family dinners

About The Author

Brett Ullman

Brett Ullman travels North America speaking to teens, young adults, leaders, and parents on topics including parenting, mental health, sexuality, pornography, men, dating and media. Brett's seminars engage and challenge attendees to try and connect our ancient faith with our modern culture we live in. Participants are inspired to reflect on what we know, what we believe and how our faith ought to serve as the lens through which we view and engage tough conversations in our society today.

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