Some of my favorite childhood memories are with my family around the dinner table. Little did I know we were doing more than enjoying a tasty meal and a pleasant visit. My parents were fortifying us against some serious teenage temptations.
Teens who have family dinner more often are less likely to use tobacco, alcohol or marijuana. And they are less likely to have friends who use them.
This chart doesn't say so, but family dinner is a great opportunity for parents to teach values, build relationships, and create happy memories -- all important elements in preparing our children to build happy, successful families of their own.
No wonder President Reagan said, "All great change in America begins at the dinner table."
If family dinner hasn't been high priority, this might be a good time to make a change. Our kids can even help with the preparation and clean-up. New habits may not be easy at first, but if we persist in good-natured patience, our efforts will pay big dividends in the long run.
If your family has any favorite dinner traditions, please share them in the comments.
Family Dinners and Teen Substance Abuse
Source: The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 2011.See FamilyFacts.org
Looking for something meaningful to read, watch, or do for Thanksgiving?
Here are some helpful resources...
I've often heard it said, and believe it to be true, that "a family who prays together stays together."
It's also true that a family who plays together likes to stay together. With that in mind, here are some fun family activities for October. Choose some your family will enjoy and have a great time!
Please feel free to share your favorites in the comments below! Outings
Columbus Day (Click link for details.)
- Take a walk, hike, bike ride, or drive to see the beautiful autumn leaves. Take pictures.
- Gather or purchase pussy willows, leaves, acorns, etc. and make a fall wreath.
- Collect leaves and make leaf rubbings for a nature journal.
- Attend a state fair.
- Go apple picking in an orchard.
- Walk through a corn maze.
- Visit a pumpkin patch or festival.
- Take Saturday morning walks.
- Fly a kite.
- Play soccer at the park.
- Watch baseball games together.
- Learn about Christopher Columbus.
- Create something about Columbus.
- Go on an outing and talk about Columbus' experience.
- Reflect on your family and individual dreams together.
- Learn about other people who have risen to their dreams.
- Decorate the house and yard together.
- Tell Halloween stories by candle light or flashlight.
- Choose and carve pumpkins as a family, or
- Have a pumpkin carving party, with bobbing for apples, hot cider, and hay rides.
- Invite friends and family to come visit in costume. Take pictures.
- Visit a "haunted house."
- Watch "Monster's Inc."
- Volunteer to give out candy at the mall on Halloween night.
- Hold a neighborhood Halloween party with games and treats.
- Go trick or treating.
Fun at Home
- Make a harvest basket to share. Fill it with garden bounty or other treats.
- Make doughnuts, scones, cinnamon rolls, or pumpkin bread.
- Make applesauce from scratch.
- Bake apples or make apple cinnamon rolls.
- Roast pumpkin seeds.
- Make pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread.
- Read the book, "Stone Soup," and make a nice pot of soup to share.
- Eat dinner by pumpkin candle light.
- Build a bonfire and roast hotdogs and marshmallows.
- Have a picnic at the park.
- Eat outside at night.
- Play in a pile of leaves, then rake them up together.
- Clear out the garden together.
- Make a scarecrow.
- Have a yard sale to get ready for new items.
- Play board games together.
- Gather together at night time and visit or tell stories in the dark.
- Watch "The Pride of the Yankees" or "The Rookie."
Here are are some great ways to plan and prepare for a wonderful family reunion!
Creative invitationsPersonal contact/assignmentFriend them on Facebook
Get the word out
Family t-shirtFamily exhibit - have a show and tell spaceFamily Museum TableTime capsulePlan for good food
Include family Hhstory fun
SkitsSlide showFashion showGames
Plan activities for kids and adults
Tour places that have significance to your familyMovies, contests, racesFamily service project
Include spiritual experiences
Prayer on foodShare thoughts and feelings about things that matterFamily devotional
In their book, "Traditions: Creating Memories to Draw Your Family Close," Kimberly Bytheway and Diane H. Loveridge share many fun ideas to celebrate our nation's birthday.
8 of our family favorites are included below.
Their purpose is to "instill in family members a love and loyalty and respect for our country and its leaders. This respect has filtered into other aspects of our lives and helped us maintain a healthy and supportive view of our nation."
When You Wish Upon a Star
Because the star is such an important symbol on our flag, representing the individual states that make up our country, the Fourth of July is a good time to lie down on blankets outside as a family and look up at the stars in the sky. Have each person express a wish for the country and for the family as they "wish upon a star."
America's Birthday Cards
Make and decorate birthday cards to America. Display the cards all month long where family and friends can see them, and reminisce about the importance of our country's founding.
Learn and recite poetry specific to the patriotic holiday. Have the family learn "Paul Revere's Ride" or the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States. Invite extended family members over and make the recitation part of the evening's celebration.
Go camping or hiking to enjoy the beauties of the country. Visit a national park or monument where possible. Teach the children the importance of recognizing the blessing of living in such a beautiful country. Point out the things that may be unique to our country, or even to your geographic region. Talk about the different climate across the country, and about the "melting pot" phenomenon of America, with so many different races of people living here.
Birthday Party and Gifts
Have a birthday party for America. Serve birthday cake and ice cream and sing "Happy Birthday." As a family, write down specific "gifts" you might give to America that will make you better citizens or will make the country a better place for all those around you. Include ideas for beautifying the neighborhood or treating others with respect.
Afternoon and Evening at the Park
Go as a family to enjoy a community fireworks show. Take a picnic dinner and enjoy the day playing games, throwing a Frisbee, napping on a blanket, reading, and enjoying snacks during the daylight hours before night falls and the fireworks begin.
Along with the regular barbeque items, serve side dishes that are red, white, and blue, including strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, blueberries, red or blue punch, ambrosia salad with whipped cream, macaroni salad with mayonnaise, and red gelatin salad decorated with whipped cream and blueberries to resemble the American Flag. Serve patriotic ice cream for dessert.
Clothes For the Country
Have every family member dress in red, white, and blue, to show their patriotism. Buy special socks, ribbons, and hats to add to the occasion.
Source: "Traditions: Creating Memories to Draw Your Family Close"
by Kimberly Bytheway and Diane H. Loveridge
Here are some meaningful and simple ways to celebrate Flag Day.
Choose as many activities as you think your family will enjoy and have a wonderful time!
Happy Memorial Day!
Here are 7 fun and meaningful ways to celebrate Memorial Day with your family.
Choose a few favorites and they can become special traditions for your family to share and remember.
Red, White, and Blue Breakfast
Decorate your table with patriotic decorations. Serve waffles, cream, strawberries and blueberries for a red, white, and blue breakfast. Talk about Memorial Day and what it means. Read the Memorial Day Proclamation or a special Memorial Day message.
Visit the Cemetery
Visit the cemetery and put flowers on the graves of loved ones. Talk about your family heritage and the purpose of life. Read some of the headstones. Talk about what you want people to remember about you when you are gone. Talk about the importance of leaving a legacy.
Interview a Patriot
Talk to a person who has served in the military. Thank them and ask questions about their experiences. If you don’t know anyone in the military, visit with someone who gives service in your community. Take plenty of pictures and write down some of the experiences and ideas they share. You could give them a small gift or treat, or invite them to share a meal with you. Be sure to thank them for their service.
Create a Movie
Think about your family heritage or some of the experiences you have shared as a family. Gather together pictures, videos, etc. Create a movie that will help you remember and treasure your heritage and/or special family experiences.
Have a Family Time to Write in Your Journals
Write in your journals. Express your feelings about the great people who have sacrificed for us to enjoy the blessings of faith, family, and freedom.
Invite extended family and friends for a patriotic potluck. Have a short program and play games afterward.
Build a campfire. Sing patriotic songs and share special memories. You could roast hotdogs or marshmallows and make s’mores.
Think for a minute of one of your all-time-favorite memories, the kind that warms your heart and makes you smile spontaneously...
- Who were you with?
- What were you doing?
- What made the memory special?
When was the last time you shared an experience like that with your family?
- Do you have them as often as you'd like?
- Do you have them with each of your children?
- Do you plan them on purpose?
Now is a great time to plan our “Summer 2012 Meaningful Memory List.”
Your list will be unique, but here are a few simple ideas to get you started. Work Together
Learn Something New
- Plant a family garden. Teach your kids how to prepare the food. Enjoy it at family dinner.
- Clean out closets and drawers. Hold a family yard sale and use the proceeds for special family activities. Or share unused items with someone in need.
- Build something. It could be a birdhouse, doghouse, treehouse, or whatever you family might enjoy. This is a great idea whether you make or buy it.
- Paint and decorate a room together.
Enjoy Family Recreation
- Become experts on your hometown, especially the places that are extra fun.
- Hold family seminars. Learn about time management, financial management, etc.
- Learn Spanish or some other language. Speak your new language together at dinner.
- Read a great book together.
- Pack a picnic together and take a family bike ride to a pretty place to enjoy your meal.
- Go camping - even if it’s only in your own back yard.
- Go fishing and have a fish fry.
- Have a friendly marshmallow fight.
Nurture Your Family
- Adopt a Grandma. Be her friend. Include her in family activities.
- Work for a political candidate you believe in.
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen or create a family service project.
- Have a patriotic family sing along. Invite your friends and neighbors.
- Have a candlelight dinner where you talk about your favorite family memories.
- Write your family history, complete with text, pictures, audio and video.
- Choose or create a family song. Use music to a favorite song and write words that fit your family.
- Talk about your hopes and dreams as a family. Create a family mission statement.
Whatever the activity is, if you do it with love, you are well on your way to creating meaningful, happy memories!
We are in for a treat today!
We have a new post from Life as a Mother... of Many.
Today we get to see how Allison prepares her children for elections, and how she helps them develop the attitudes, habits, and skills to become capable patriots and leaders in the future.
I was raised in a very patriotic family. It rubbed off on me and I not only love this country but I love everything government and politics!
Well, I guess it would be more accurate to say that I have a passion for government and politics but it isn't always lovable.
Because this is one of my passions, I thought I would take advantage of the current elections and all of the events and information to get my children involved and educated about American politics and government.
So, we put together election folders for each child (even Sethy who is 2 as he LOVES to do what the older kids are doing). And, you know that if I am making folders for all of my kids, they will be color coded
...haha! Here is a picture of the color coded folders that we put together.
We created a page for each candidate in the primary. On each page is a picture of the candidate, room to take notes, and a list of the issues that are important to our family.
Here are the pages that I made.
*These are in alphabetical order...no preference was given to listing order (my attorney husband made me put that in...haha.)
As the primaries and debates take place, we will watch clips of debates or town halls (entire debates are too long for my kids). The kids mark the issues each time a candidate says something that they agree with (check) or disagree with (X). They can also take any other notes they want about the candidate.
Next, we printed off several blank USA maps and placed them in the folder.
Here is a link to a USA map
We labeled them "primary" and "general election". I gave each candidate a different color..I even color coded the candidates...haha! After each primary, we fill in the state with the winning candidate's color. For the "general election" map, we will color states blue and red for the two parties.
Until the general election, we will continue to add to these folders with information or pictures that pertain to the elections.
Here are a few pictures of the kids working with their election folders.
Coloring in states by candidate...
Learning about the different candidates...
Watching a few debate clips...
Yes, we have our laptop on a cooling rack as it has been overheating. It's time for a new computer!
And, here is Wesley proudly showing off his election folder.
Thanks for another great post, Allison!!!
For Patriotic Moms:
These ideas are helpful for kids, and can be adapted for adults too!
To see some great tips on organization, click on the red link above that says "color coded."
Please click "Like" to share with your friends.
And if you have a favorite idea related to the articles, please share it in the comments below.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Valentine's Day is a special holiday devoted to love. It could be a good time to pause and think about how to help our children love America.
One powerful way to help our children love America is to encourage them to be actively involved in keeping America strong. We tend to love the things we serve and give our time, energy, and attention to.
Allison, a Patriotic Mom with six children, is actively helping her children love America. Political involvement has been a part of her life for as long as she can remember and now she is encouraging her children to be involved in the process.
I discovered Allison's blog while doing research for Patriotic Moms. I loved the things she is doing and asked her if I could share with you. She graciously consented, and so here is her blog entry telling how she and her family got involved campaigning for a candidate they support.
If you want a really fun treat and a healthy dose of inspiration, go visit her blog!!! It's a lively account of her life as a wife and a mother of six children. She is a woman of faith and a homeschooling mom with "a passion for photography, politics, and natural living."
Right now she is doing a series on "Learning through the Elections" that is full of great ideas.
The red link below goes right to "Learning through the Elections."
I hope you enjoy her wonderful blog as much as I do!!
So, tonight I took the kids to a political rally.
It definitely isn't their first but may have left more of a lasting impression than any other.
The rally was for Peter's previous boss Speaker Kirk Adams who is running for US Congress.
So, this was a candidate that our kids had met on several occasions and recognized.
They went to rallies for Len Munsil (also a former boss of Peter's) when he was running for
Arizona Governor but that was several years ago.
Here is a picture of Kirk Adams and his lovely wife JaNae.
Vice President Dan Quayle and Congressman Ben Quayle were also there.
The kids were fascinated by the fact that they were looking at a former
vice-president from when Peter and I were kids and that Congressman
Ben Quayle was a child when his dad was vice-president.
But, at this rally, I think they were just as amazed by the fun family atmosphere.
It was like a carnival.
Wesley had this nice lady make him a doggie with a leash.
This is another way to get your kids involved in the current elections.
Find a local rally for a candidate that you support and take the whole family....
Now to follow up with the kids about what makes a good candidate
and how to choose who will get your vote.
I will also have my older three kids write a report on the event...
civics, the writing process, and handwriting all in one:)
Thanks, Allison, for sharing this wonderful entry from your blog with us!!!