This post was written by FCCLA National Vice President of Public Relations — and high school student — Lauren Cole. We asked Lauren what her best advice was to other teens who might be interested in improving their family dinners at home. Here are her thoughts.
Family dinners. It’s not something we see or hear of very often nowadays. Parents and teens alike have busy schedules that often interfere with meal time. From club meetings, sports practices, and everything in between, more and more families just simply “don’t have time” for a meal together. However, this problem actually has a few very simple solutions. They may require communication and planning but in the end, the outcome is sure to be worth it.
- Talk it Out– Teens, sit down with your parents and discuss what nights work best with everyone’s schedule. Pick one to two nights a week to have a meal together. You can even decide who cooks and split up the cooking between everyone in the family.
- Make Time– Although spending time with your friends is important, so is time with your family members. Let’s say you have late band practices on Tuesday, your sibling has soccer on Wednesday and Friday night you usually go out with your friends. This means Monday and Thursday are the only open weekdays you have off. Instead of spending all of Thursday evening at your BFF’s house, come home and have a meal with your family.
- Divide and Conquer– Once you’ve decided which days your family is going to have family dinner nights on, decide who is cooking. Monday night your mom can cook her signature dish and Thursday night you and your sibling and decide to test your culinary skills and make meal on your own. Even if you end up burning whatever you make, your parents likely love what you made anyway because you made it! They will appreciate that you are making an effort to cook for them.
As a busy teen myself, I know how hard it is to get your family together for a meal. However, every time I sit down at the table with my family, I am reminded of how grateful I am for the time that I have with them. Next year I’ll be off at college and won’t have the opportunity to see my loved ones every day but dinner time is a great way to take advantage of the time I have with them now. In fact, some of my fondest memories with my family have happened over a dinner table. Many holidays, birthdays, and other celebrations have revolved around getting together to share a nice meal with the ones I love most. But not all of those memories involved a giant turkey and stuffing. Most of them happened over food that I don’t remember on days that I don’t remember. But the moments I spent with my family have stayed with me long after the food was gone.
To me, family dinner time isn’t about the food we eat or the place we eat it at. It’s about the people who are there to enjoy the meal with me, the conversations about how school was that day and the jokes made by my dad that aren’t all that funny but everyone still cracks a smile anyway. With the busy school year starting and the holiday season on its way, I encourage you to make time for family dinners. I promise you won’t regret it.