Too often family meals get lost in the shuffle of our busy schedules. Or, if we do have them, they’re overrun by the noise and distraction of television, smartphones, or tablets. However, family meals are an important aspect of family life and can have many benefits, both for individuals and for the family unit as a whole.

A great way for preventing a child from being sexually abused is having a family dinner together. It allows the family a time to talk without distraction and set up healthy boundaries and create open communication. Both contribute to your child trusting you enough to let you know if something is going on in their lives or if there is a person (or persons) who make them uncomfortable.

Here are 5 tips for getting the most out of your family meals:

01

Be consistent.

If you aren’t having meals together right now, start small. Try to schedule one or two meals for everyone and ask them to be there every week, no matter what.
02

Don’t get discouraged.

The first few meals might end up being pretty quiet or awkward. When you ask your child about his or her day you might get one-word answers. Keep trying. Building open communication takes time.
03

Play a game.

Have a question that everyone answers. Go around and ask everyone to tell a knock-knock joke. It’s a good way to break the ice and get everyone laughing and in a good mood.
04

Go tech-free.

Ask everyone to put their phones and tablets away and not answer them. Remind them that the world won’t end if they’re unavailable for half an hour. This will teach them (and re-teach you) how to live in the moment with those around you.
05

Listen.

Don’t tease or scold as your child talks. Really listen to what they’re saying. Allow them to share whatever is on their mind and try your best to be supportive and nonjudgmental. If there is something that you need to address, wait until after the meal when you’ve had a little more time to think about what to say.

Take the time to make family meals a priority. You’ll be amazed at the way they can transform your relationship with your children!

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