When Family Dinners Become Difficult

by Dec 15, 2022Her Moods & Mind

If you were to take a few minutes before bed every night for a week to ponder and write down “Three Good Things” from your day, research says you’d experience an increase in happiness, hope, and optimism. If you were to stick with it longer, you’d grow resilience and you might also boost your immune system. Sound too good to be true? Three Good Things is one of the most well-known and well-studied tools of positive psychology. 

Seems like we should get our kids on board with it, right? 

So I tried.

When my kids were still in elementary school, we would do something similar at the dinner table every evening. We started each dinner by asking each person tell three good things from their day. We could hardly keep each of our girls from interrupting each other with their joyous lists of daily highlights. 🤗

Then came adolescence, and suddenly, our happy habit was “stupid” or met with silent, squinty glares. 🙄

Our forced family happiness exercise was ruining our family dinners. 

You know what else ruins a family dinner? 

The natural conversations that flow when dinner starts off with sighs and eye rolls over a happiness exercise. Next thing you know, you’re bringing up bad grades, forgotten chores, dirty rooms, and screen time.

Who wants to sit at that table? 😠😫😔

Eventually, everyone will be looking for a way out, and it becomes way too easy to let them all skip the dinner table and eat on their own schedules.

So, if you have adolescents, it’s time to be more strategic about meal time as well as the moods they may bring to the table. To help, I have two very simple recommendations:  

1.) Make the dinner table a place where the adults are not allowed to make any negative comments or observations. If the kids bring up emotionally charged topics. This is your chance to practice the 5 tips we shared in our Girlology TV episode on puberty, moods & attitudes. Members can watch it HERE.

2). Make eating together a priority whenever you can, because shared mealtime PROTECTS our kids from many of the things we worry about. Like what? Depression, disordered eating, unhealthy risk taking and it BOOSTS a lot of qualities we hope for, like self esteem, vocabulary, and even academic performance. Members can learn more about the benefits of shared mealtimes in our tip, Family Meals are Good Medicine. Even a couple times a week helps, and the meal doesn't always have to be dinner! 

What works for you and your kids at mealtimes? Let us know in the comments! 🍴🥗🍕🍛🧇


Did you know Girlology has grade-by-grade video on demand playlists to support her and you through all things puberty and adolescence. Our doctor-moms cover topics like this and lots others! Learn More HERE. 

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