GRAND Magazine - September/October 2008 - (Page 42)

“A-B-C-DE-F-G/ I thank you for feeding me.” skills they need for the outside world. How are they going to go out for dinner with a girlfriend one day if they’re still using their shirt to wipe spaghetti sauce off their face?” Jim has strict rules—“sit up straight,” “no elbows on the table”—while Dorothy likes to slip her advice into the flow of the conversation. “It’s quietly interjected, just one sentence: ‘Michael, use your knife’ or ‘Cody, take smaller bites.’ “If you lecture, you lose them,” she advises. “After the first 10 seconds, they’re thinking about playing baseball!” “Family meals are good for kids,” says Dr. Marla Eisenberg, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Eisenberg has done extensive research on the eating habits of America’s children. With her colleagues, she has gathered scientific proof for what most grands already know: A mealtime routine provides an opportunity to socialize a child. The study “Family Meals and Disordered Eating in Adolescents” was published earlier this year in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (APAM). The findings emphasize conclusions formed in another study—“Correlations between Family Meals and Psychosocial WellBeing among Adolescents”—also published by APAM (August 2004); Eisenberg was one of the chief researchers. Based on interviews of 4,746 adolescents in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, the study concluded, “Frequency of family meals was inversely associated with tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana use; low grade point average; depressive symptoms; and suicide involvement.” (A stunner: The practice of routine family dinners cut the risk of suicide in teenage girls by 50 percent.) In other words—the more family meals, the better off the kids were. Zeroing in on neighborhoods that were both ethnically and socioeconomically diverse, the survey showed a quarter of the Minnesota kids ate at least seven meals a week with the family. Asking the kids to judge everything from how they felt about themselves to how they think their parents felt about them, the researchers were able to separate the kids’ successes from the healthy behaviors kids are known to exhibit simply because they come from a loving, supportive home. Among the “hunches” researchers have is that increased time spent with family means less time spent with other kids—including the kids who create trouble. “Usually, high-risk behaviors are done with their peer group,” Eisenberg explains. Grandmother Georgia Karadontes Hart can attest. Raised in a strict Greek family, Hart remembers being confused by friends who wanted to stay out late and raise a ruckus. “To me it was like, what do you mean you don’t have to be home for dinner?” Family + food = fun Dinner is too important to be serious FrAn Weber TeAll s children, my brothers and I sat around with our parents, talking, laughing, debating (often passionately!) and listening to my dad’s stories. As a grandparent, I can’t think of many things more important than instilling in my grandchildren a sense of gratitude for, as my late husband Geoff would call it, “the community of the table.” Children’s communities are fun filled, so let’s plan dinnertime to be just that. A 42 GRAND SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2008

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of GRAND Magazine - September/October 2008

Grand Magazine- September/October 2008
Grand View:Priceless
Isn't it Grand?: Picture Perfect
Winners!: GRANDparent of the Year
Grand Central
Toddler Town:Grand-proofing
Ask Grand:Two Tired
Tips on Teens: The Bar Mitzvah Trips
Just So We Know:BPA Not Our BFF
Full House-Full Heart-Full Time:Confessions of a Backyard Grand
Grandbloggers: It Takes a Village
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
Family Food = Fun
On the Cover: Nora Roberts A Fine Romance
Everything Was Fine Until You Showed Up
Happy Big Sister Day
Looking Grand:Elementary, My Dear
All in the Family:Pasta, Present and Future
Inspirations:Grandpa's Violin
Grand Bazaar
More to the Story
Grand Finale:Long Ago Under the Sun

GRAND Magazine - September/October 2008