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Newsletter: October 2017

Does Family Dinner Scare You?

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Newsletter October


October is a month of thrills and chills, when people delight in telling their favorite horror stories. While we hope that the family dinner table is a place for enjoying the fun and excitement of storytelling, we also know some families who would say that dinnertime has given them a few scary stories to tell!

Never fear — just as jack-o-lanterns can light up the night and Mom and Dad can check to be sure there are no real monsters under the bed, there are ways to banish the ghosts of family dinners past and make the table a fun, positive place for everyone. Here are our suggestions for tackling the “scary” things that might be keeping you away from the table.

We’ve heard from many people who tell us that they grew up with family dinners that have scared them away from the table as adults. Overbearing grown-ups, angry exchanges and force-feeding are just some of the memories on the list of horror stories we’ve heard.

If you’re in the “bad memories” club, these resources can help you get back to the dinner table for a much better experience with your own family:

Getting off on the Right Foot »
Creating Meaningful Conversation »
Taking the Stress out of Family Dinner (from the Washington Post) »

We’re the first people to say that going overboard on stressing manners at the expense of an enjoyable mealtime is a quick way to ruin family dinner for everyone. But on the other hand, no one can relax when the behavior at the table is truly out of control.

Try these tips to help strike the balance between “Elbows off the table” perfection and “Finger painting on the walls” rebellion:

Answering Real Moms’ Family Dinner Questions »
Make Your Toddler a Cooperative Diner »
The Origins of Manners »

And check out the “Common Challenges” section of our FAQ page for even more advice!

Too many families avoid eating dinner together because they are tired of dealing with a mealtime atmosphere that feels more like punishment than family time. Whether it’s teens who won’t talk, sibling conflicts or conversations that always seem to end in arguments, any constant source of tension at the table is bound to scare people away.

Explore ways to make dinnertime safe and welcoming for the whole family:

How to Beat Tension and Conflict from Your Family Dinner »
Steps to Ease Dinner Stress for Stepfamilies »
Making the Most of Dinner with Adolescents »

Meet the Elder family! Kathy is a teacher who uses her own family dinners as inspiration to help her students and their families.

Real Family Dinner Projects: The Elder Family »



Harvest Popcorn Balls are a sweet treat for the season!

Harvest Popcorn Balls »



Try putting a Halloween twist on this Story Stones activity. How many spooky and seasonal ideas can you create?

Story Stones »




Why not Family Dinner and a Movie? Check out our guide to “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”

Talking About the Great Pumpkin »