I was left feeling discouraged. How could I, someone who values family meals so much that she named her business "Dinner Together," go a full week without her daughter being present at dinner?
So how did it happen? Well, now that my daughter is in high school, most of her extracurricular activities are through the school and many of them take place in the evening. I know I've been blessed with a very active, highly self-motivated, over-achieving child. Our usually calm winters are now filled with cheerleading and the school play in addition to all the usual activities she's involved with. This week has been better. It's only Tuesday and we've already had one meal all together.
I know the research on the association between mental health variables and teens who eat at least 5 meals per week with their families. Now that I'm in those teen years myself, I'm hoping that the reasons that keep a teen away from family dinners can mediate the association between those variables. I'm also hoping that weekend meals carry some weight. I'm also hoping that it's the overall pattern and not individual bad weeks that matter most. And I'm also hoping that the words of wisdom I received once from the acclaimed Ellyn Satter hold true: sometimes just valuing eating together and trying to make it happen is good enough (paraphrased).
Seeing as I'm relatively new to being the parent of a teenage, I'd love to hear from those of you with teens about how you've managed to make family meals happen. What strategies have helped you?