Thanks to Valentine’s Day, February always seems to be when people think about love. Of course, there’s possibly no better time to focus on warm, fuzzy feelings than late winter, when we can all arguably use a boost in mood. So this month, we’re leaning into all the romance in the air – but we’re not sticking with Valentine’s cards and candy hearts. We’re taking a deeper look at love, relationships and yes, even sex.
What do love and sex have to do with family dinner? You might think, “Not a lot!” But our families are our first role models for healthy relationships, and we get a lot of our ideas and personal values around partnership, love, respect and intimacy from them. Family dinners are also a good opportunity to keep tabs on your kids’ budding crushes, possible relationships and attitudes about their friends’ romantic interactions – including watching out for the subtle signs of more serious issues, like teen dating violence.
Family dinners are also protective against risky sexual behaviors and help kids develop more positive peer relational skills, even if you’re not actually talking about dating or romance at the table. Eating together regularly helps create closer bonds among family members, and gives kids a sense of belonging. Those ties may have something to do with helping kids recognize and seek out more positive relationships as they grow.
So yes, family dinners are a perfect place to lean into love! This piece from our archives showcases different ways families can model and talk about healthy relationships with kids of any age. If you’re looking for new ideas to explore the topic further, look below for our latest Dinner and a Movie recommendations, developed in partnership with Common Sense Media. We’re also sharing our in-depth advice, including tips from experts in child and family therapy and health education, on how to have one of the most important conversations of all – the “sex talk.” (Though you might not be ready to tackle that topic while you’re dishing up the mashed potatoes.)
Here’s to a happy, healthy, and loving February!
Let the kids whip up the blender batter for these Valentine’s pancakes from our friends at GoodCook!
From The Princess Bride to Love and Basketball, we’ve got a fantastic list of romantic movies you can watch with kids 8 and up this month – plus the food, fun, and conversation ideas to go with them!
Dinner and a Movie: Valentine’s Day Family Movies
When to talk about it? How to talk about it? And what to do about those unexpected questions? We asked a team of experts to help us dive into one of parenting’s more awkward moments.
2023 The Family Dinner Project