When you’re a single parent, there is no back-up. It’s parenting without a net. Amy Dickinson
Newly single parents struggle. They often feel alone. Scared. Directionless. If you find yourself in this boat–there’s hope.
One simple tradition gives definition to family life and provides a huge safety net for parents and children alike. Family dinners.
In every study performed, children who consistently experience family dinners fare better on the positive factors and reduce the negative. On the positive side, children’s:
- Grades go up,
- Involvement in extra-curricular activities goes up,
- Self-esteem goes up, and
- Close-knit, healthy relationships with family and friends go up.
Correspondingly, children’s drug usage, sexual promiscuity, and rebellion at school and home go down.
Family dinners offer single parents a key pathway to protecting children and creating healthy homes.
Yet, establishing the pattern can prove difficult especially for single parents.
Cut off from the partnership of marriage, single parents must do it all working, running the house, paying the bills, and raising the children. Finding energy to invest in conversation can overwhelm. The easiest option for a depleted parent is often to let television or iPad entertain children through dinner and until bed.
More, the dinner table often represents the former intact family. Some parents avoid sitting at the table because the memories hurt.
Yet, the safety net that family dinners offers children of divorce is too valuable to miss.
You can reap the advantages by starting simple. As you experience the benefits of deeper connection to your children, your children’s success at school, and the sheer enjoyment of sharing fellowship around a meal the tradition will take on a life of its own.
The plan can include:
- Designate meal nights. With hectic schedules, not every night works. That’s ok. But, hectic schedules also make it easy to never eat together. Designate 2-3 nights to sit together, eat, and converse. Blocking the nights from other activities makes the habit a priority. Alternatively, nothing says the meal has to be dinner. If breakfast works better, do that. The idea is to have a regular meal together where parents and children connect.
- Keep meals simple. Though nutritionists may cringe the meal doesn’t matter. Home-cooked or fast food put whatever works for the family on the table. The goal is to eat together. As kids get older and schedules allow, include them in the preparation. They learn a valuable skill while bonding with you in the kitchen.
- Buy conversation starters. If family dinners haven’t been an element of family life, you may not know how to engage with each other. Games like Table Topics: Family or A Bit of Banter Jr. Edition offer ideas for beginning conversations. More, nothing says dinner must happen at the table. Spread a picnic blanket on the living room floor to play a board game or build a puzzle. Fun activities help families get used to the new pattern.
Though single parenting may feel like parenting without a net family dinners offer a proven investment in your children’s security and health. A key ingredient for successful single parenting.
If you would like more in-depth assistance in navigating the waters of single-parenthood email info@TheResolutionCenterIndy.com or call 317-344-9740 for information and support.