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Share a Meal With Family and Friends

February 28, 2021

Raising teens in the age of the internet comes with quite a few challenges. 

Are you wondering what raising teens and the internet have to do with eating with family and friends? I'll tell you!

Our kids have been spending way too much time on their "devices." This means chatting through Facebook, SMS, Snapchat, Tiktok (not sure if you can chat on Tiktok, but it sure is a time suck... ), watching videos, streaming "series" (my generation called them sitcoms or just "shows"), or playing video games with online friends that they have NEVER met in person.

I sometimes get rather absorbed in what I'm doing on the farm. It's easy for my distraction to prevent me from properly supervising our teenagers. And, since we are homeschooling, that's not a good thing. 

Anyhow, it came to my attention that our daughter had been neglecting some school assignments AND chores while spending extra time time with friends.

We handled the situation by taking her devices (iPad, iPhone, AND iPod... ) and her car keys. We mandated that she start getting up earlier so that I'm not waiting on her to start my day.

Meanwhile, I had let our schedule get so wonky that the kids were snacking before dinner or making plans during dinner and we were not sitting together to eat like we should. Zach was scheduling video games with online friends during dinner and Carmin was snacking while out with friends. No one was even hungry enough to eat, much less wanting to make the time to sit together.

The best change I made this week was to be sure that we were all sitting together for dinner every night this week. 

In order to make it to dinner, Zach had to put his video games on hold, and Carmin had no keys or devices, so she was hungry to talk to anyone.

Dinner ended up being the best time of every day this week. 

Both Carmin and Zach were chatty (and relaxed without their devices distracting them), and when Kevin came in Friday night we spent an extra hour just sitting around the table talking. It was amazing!

Here's a list of reasons why you should eat with family - and don't limit it to just family!

Enjoying a meal with friends is productive too!

Just do NOT turn on the TV during family meals as the TV negates the following benefits:

 - Children learn about 3,000 more rare words at the dinner table than they do from being read to!

 - Regular meals with families are a powerful predictor of high achievement scores

 - Kids who eat 5 to 7 meals a week with family are twice as likely to get A's

 - Children who share meals with family regularly eat more fruits and vegetables and are less likely to become obese.

 - There are a tons of studies showing that family meals reduce the risk of teens engaging in high risk behaviors

 - Family dinners reduce the incidence of depression and suicidal thoughts.

 - Good behavior and positive moods are associated with family meals.

 - When a group of teens was surveyed about when they were most likely to talk with their parents the answer was dinner time.

Just food for thought - even if you are living alone, make some time every week to eat with friends and/or family. That time spent in person talking while enjoying a meal is invaluable. I spent several hours visiting with friends on Friday afternoon - I didn't even realize how much I needed that time.

Amie Herrera

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