According to mountains of research conducted over the last 15 years about The Family Dinner, the social, emotional and intellectual benefits that come with it are one amazing side dish; these include positive game changers like improved academic performance, healthier waist lines and lower risk of addiction and drug use. The Family Dinner looks like something from an ABC afterschool special. It’s something we Grandparents, all former moms and dads, remember fondly and are eager to see happen more often in our grandchildren’s homes. How? Read on!
An AARP study done less than 5 years ago reports that *80 percent of adults, age 45 and older believe it’s important to live near their children and grandchildren.” Whether we’re lucky enough to do so or just visiting, there are things we grandparents can do to help our grown children get their kids to the dinner table, without interfering or crossing the line, such as:
Cook double portions and bring the extras to your grandchildren! Roast two chickens on Sunday night; keep one to sustain you through the week, and repurpose the other chicken into a portable dinner that you can take to your grandchildren. This is a tried and true recipe for foolproof roast chicken that can be prepared in a slow cooker. The extra chicken meat can be used in chicken quesadillas, chicken salad or super chicken and white bean nachos. Acting as your own delicious meals-on-wheels eliminates the work for over scheduled parents, and encourages everyone to head to the table. Chances are excellent, this includes YOU.
When you’re a guest, tell stories about when your kids were little: Grandparents will be amazed at what a big impression it makes on their young grandchildren to hear what Mom or Dad ate when they were small. Because it’s common for our little people to idolize their parents, once they hear, for example, that their father loved chicken legs, just as you used to make for him, they might just acquire a taste for this as well—and beg you to come over and show them the recipe!
Prepare the kids’ favorite take-out food, but add a healthy twist. This tip works best when you set a date to meet with your grandchildren. Tell them you’re bringing over their favorite meal, and you want THEIR help putting it together. This means you show up at the door with all of the healthy ingredients in a shopping bag. You’ll be amazed at how excited the grandkids get, making their own pizza. Try this recipe for Meatball, Spinach and Mozzarella Pizza as your first top secret experiment. That means keeping Mom and Dad out of the kitchen, until pizza’s on and you and the grandkids are ready for the big reveal.
Be Cool about Gadgets! Although the goal is to “turn off and tune in” at the dinner table, that doesn’t mean technology doesn’t have its place in the kitchen. There are, after all, excellent cookbooks you can download on your iPad and prop up while you cook. You can also ask your older grandchildren to google a recipe on your phone and read off the ingredients, as you both work on a dish together. Remember, even if you don’t live nearby, you can always bring elements of your own kitchen into your grandkids’ homes by using Skype or Facetime, with the idea being to cook a meal together. Next time you visit, you can prepare the same meal—only in person this time!
*Cited in blog: AARP: Insights and Spending Habits of Modern Grandparents