Dinner Discussions

Dinner Discussions

Start the Conversation About Wellness
By Wellness Week With Herren

At Herren, we want to help families grow, heal and thrive together. We encourage you to make “family dinner” a goal this week and beyond. Take this time to start (or continue!) the conversation about wellness, mental health and substance use.  Connecting With Your Kids is Key! According to the Center on Addiction, children of all ages, especially teens, who sit down with their families three or more times per week are less likely to engage in risky behavior like using drugs and alcohol. They eat healthier, do better academically, have better relationships with their parents and peers and are less likely to be overweight. Genuine family connection can be a big part of wellness. We know that life is busy and sometimes, three dinners a week just isn’t possible, so make the most of the time you do have. Even if it’s just one dinner a week. Ask your kids how they are… how they really are. Listen and ask how you can best support them. Give advice when the moment is right and guide them to healthy coping skills to help them live well. Remind them you love them and are here for them. Sometimes, this simple reminder can go a long way.

Tips for Starting Family Dinners

It may not be easy at first to get everyone on board with a family dinner. Some might say they’re too busy, others might “not want to”. That’s alright! We all begin somewhere. If you can’t find time to make dinner happen, find 30 minutes a day to connect in other ways - go for a walk, talk on the way to school, even just chat with your kids about their day and if anything made them feel a certain way. The key is to start a conversation, no matter how big or small or when it is. 

Have a family meeting to pick a day (or days) and time of the week that works for everyone.

• Set a goal for how long you can sit down & work to increase the time every week.

• Stick to your weekly schedule! Consistency is key and eventually, you’ll create a habit and they’ll feel more comfortable coming to you when they need support.

• Plan and cook the meal together. Introduce a theme or a cuisine. Make it fun. Even have a family contest to see who can make the best dish for your meal!
• Italian night
• Asian night
• Mexican night
• Breakfast for dinner night

• Invite guests to your family dinner from time to time.

Real Talk – Start the conversation on wellness, mental health and substance use. 

• Ask how their day was
• Ask how they are feeling
• Check in about situations they are/were stressed about
• Ask about their friends and/or significant other
• Talk about healthy ways of handling stress
• Educate them on how substances make problems worse and how wellness can make a positive difference
• Share your personal experiences
• Keep it positive
• Be a good listener No topic is offlimits. Don’t be afraid to talk about uncomfortable things. Create a safe space for talking about anything. Value their opinions.

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