It is hard to find time for a busy family to eat together, but it is absolutely necessary. According to research from the Heritage Foundation, teenagers who eat meals with their families experience less emotional distress and are less likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs. Eating is necessary, and eating together gives a family time to get to know each other (by discussing events that happened during the day), time to form memories, and sometimes, time to hash out those really deep issues that can occasionally come up.

How do you do it? Make it a priority! In my family, I knew that I couldn’t hang out with friends during dinner time, unless a friend joined us for dinner. In return, my parents made the effort to be home from work and to cook a meal. We always sat down to eat, and turned off the TV and background music. Then we asked each other questions. Here are some samples:

  • What projects are you currently working on?
  • If we could go anywhere for vacation and money weren’t an issue, where would you want to go?
  • What is the best thing that has happened to you this week?
  • What was your highest high and lowest low of the last month?
  • What do you think of X that happened in the news this week?
  • If you were running for president in 2008, what would your platform be?

A final note to remember: everyone has to participate. If parents do all the talking, they seem uninterested in their children, but if they do all the asking, it may seem like they are grilling their children!