Thanksgiving Foods + Traditions + The Importance of Families Eating Together | Ep. 134

Thanksgiving Foods + Traditions + The Importance of Families Eating Together | Ep. 134

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The Transformative Power of Families Eating Together

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, where screens dominate our attention and schedules overflow with commitments, the simple act of having family meals often takes a backseat. Yet, research spanning over two decades from the Harvard Graduate School has unveiled a powerful truth: dedicating a few minutes each day to disconnect from screens and genuinely connect over food can remarkably enhance the physical and mental well-being of every family member involved.

Family meals make you healthier.

Encouraging healthier eating habits stands as one of the primary benefits derived from regular family meals. Studies have consistently shown that dining together fosters better dietary choices, particularly among adolescents. When families gather around the table, there’s a natural inclination toward more nutritious options, leading to a healthier overall diet.

However, the impact extends far beyond just the food on the plate. Regular family meals have emerged as a formidable shield against various mental health disorders that often plague adolescents. These dinners serve as a buffer, significantly reducing the likelihood of issues related to eating disorders, substance and alcohol use, violent behavior, depression, and even suicidal thoughts among young family members.

Family meals improve social/emotional skills.

The magic of these gatherings lies in their ability to bolster self-esteem and refine communication skills. The profound sense of connection during these moments, devoid of distractions, allows every member to feel heard and understood. It’s in these seemingly ordinary moments that bonds are strengthened, confidence is nurtured, and kids learn the art of respectful communication.

It doesn’t require grand gestures or elaborate planning. The key is consistency and authenticity.

3 Steps for Successful Family Meals

Set the Scene

Opt for a traditional family dining setup around a table. Steer clear of the allure of the television; instead, focus on each other’s company.

Stop Scrolling

Put away the phones and other gadgets. Let the conversation be the sole source of entertainment and connection.

Cultivate Traditions

Whether it’s instituting ‘Taco Tuesdays,’ establishing a set of weekly questions, or engaging in a communal game, creating traditions infuses these gatherings with a sense of anticipation and belonging.

Families can savor the benefits of shared meals and unlock the potential for profound transformation. It’s not important how fancy the meal is, but how deep the connections formed and nourished at the table.

In the chaos of everyday life, the act of gathering for family meals emerges as a potent elixir for holistic well-being. It’s a time to savor not just the flavors on the plate but the bonds that grow stronger with every shared moment. So, let’s carve out those precious minutes, turn off the screens, and build stronger connections, one meal at a time.

Also in this episode:

  • Thanksgiving traditions that even teens will love.
  • Thanksgiving foods for the whole family.

In this episode, we mentioned or used the following resources about the importance of family meals.

Have a question?

If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!

About Us

Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Tobin Hodges

Tobin Hodges

Program Director

Caleb Hatchett

Caleb Hatchett

Podcast Host

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Episode 34: ADHD & Thanksgiving
picture of gingerbread house and title: De-Stressing Traditions and why they matter
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Ep. 34: ADHD & Thanksgiving

Ep. 34: ADHD & Thanksgiving

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Summary:
Do you know the signs that a teen has AHDH? In episode 34, we talk symptoms of ADHD, and how to help in areas like school and driving. We’ll also talk all things Thanksgiving- from traditions to how to keep teens engaged to post Thanksgiving shopping.

In this episode, we mentioned the following resources:

Have a question? If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!
About Us:
Chris Robey

Chris Robey

CEO

Chris has worked with teens from a variety of backgrounds for over a decade. He has a desire to help teenagers make good choices while also giving their families tools to communicate more effectively as choices are made.
Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Karlie was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. She has gained experience working with teenagers through work, volunteer, and personal opportunities.

Follow Us

Ep. 33: Movember & Fall Trends

Ep. 33: Movember & Fall Trends

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Summary:
Men’s mental and physical health are in crisis. In fact, the statistics are staggering. Men die, on average, five years earlier than women. Four out of five deaths by suicide in the United States are men. The Movember movement seeks to change that. Join us as we discuss how to help move the mark, specifically with teenage boys. Then, if you love all things pumpkin spice, this week’s trend is for you. We’ve got all the fall trends and a Thanksgiving tip for making the holidays more fun for everyone.

Have a question? If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!
About Us:
Chris Robey

Chris Robey

CEO

Chris has worked with teens from a variety of backgrounds for over a decade. He has a desire to help teenagers make good choices while also giving their families tools to communicate more effectively as choices are made.
Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Karlie was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. She has gained experience working with teenagers through work, volunteer, and personal opportunities.

Follow Us

Promoting Thankfulness

Promoting Thankfulness

November is one of the only times of year that is set aside for everyone to be thankful.

We are thankful for food, family, and football.

But especially right now, many people seem to be struggling with thankfulness. Maybe they aren’t thankful for our President Elect, their job situation, the fact that Texas doesn’t have a real Fall…the list could go on and on. But teenagers and our kids are watching us! If we aren’t thankful, why should they be?

This holiday season, let’s be intentional about our thankfulness. Maybe this year, we need to step up our game and make it more than a just a Thanksgiving Day deal. Being thankful can be an everyday thing! In fact, there are several ways that thankfulness and gratitude can positively affect your quality of life!

Here are a few ideas to promote thankfulness in your family and make it special for teenagers this holiday season:

 

Include them in the Thanksgiving preparations.

Thanksgiving is a holiday that takes a lot of hard work, cooking and preparation. When you’re a little kid, it’s awesome because you get to sleep in, watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and be served food followed by pie. However, it is time for us to get our children, and especially teenagers, involved in the day.

If you’re like me, I am even more thankful for things when I know how much work and effort went into making it happen. Plus, this is a family holiday! Take advantage of that family time by passing on family recipes and traditions in the kitchen!

  • Have them help with the turkey
  • Teach them how to make grandma’s famous pie
  • Ask them to set the table and encourage them to get creative with the decorations
  • Have them make their favorite side dish

There are easy ways to get teenagers involved in making Thanksgiving dinner a success!

 

Create a thankfulness activity.

Be intentional about the way your family talks about thankfulness. A great way to do that is to create a family activity that everyone can participate in.

Maybe you get a paper or cheap fabric tablecloth that your family can use for the month of November. Every time your family sits down to eat together, have everyone write something that they are thankful for on the tablecloth. This is fun to see what you have been thankful for over a short period of time, and you can even keep the tablecloth for the next year!

Another idea is to create a thankfulness tree. This is a great excuse to put up your Christmas tree a few weeks early, or you could have a separate, smaller tree just for thankful words. Each day, have your family (or each member of the family if you are really thankful) decide on something you are thankful for and write it on an ornament. Decorate your tree with things you are thankful for before you fill it with presents!

Perhaps your thankfulness activity is something as simple as asking each family member to pick something they are thankful for and share it every night before bed. It does not have to be elaborate for it to be meaningful!

 

Give back to others in need. 

Sometimes it is easier to be thankful for what we do have when we serve people who have less than us. Growing up, service was a big part of what my family did together. We went on mission trips, adopted families at Christmas time and served the homeless on different occasions. These are opportunities for you to not only talk about your own blessings, but to also create family memories that will have a lasting impact.

If you are looking for a way to serve this holiday season, here are some ideas:

  • Go shopping for canned goods and help your local food pantry stock their shelves. Ask if they need any help!
  • Serve a meal at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.
  • Request a M.A.G.I. box and fill it with goodies for a child in need.
  • Go through your closet and donate your old coats and sweaters.
  • Surprise a family by paying their grocery bill or pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru of your favorite restaurant.

Whatever you decide to do, serve as a family and take advantage of the conversations that can come out of this experience!

Are you willing to try any of these things to promote thankfulness? What other ideas have you used to make the holiday season extra special?

Karlie Duke was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is our Communications Director. She is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories.
Motivation Monday: Get Out of the Boat

Motivation Monday: Get Out of the Boat

We are only 5 weeks away from the 7th annual #TL5K, and our Kick Off Event is tomorrow, March 1st!

Please join us for dinner to hear about the great plans we have for this year’s 5K! RSVP here today.

Teen Lifeline’s vision statement is to “encourage, equip and empower teenagers to live life better.” This is done through Support Groups that take place during school hours, but sometimes in order to fully equip, encourage and empower the students we work with, our facilitators decide to go above and beyond their expected duties.

We love it when our facilitators become invested in the lives of the students they serve, and no one does it better than Jason Herman. Jason is the Lead Student Minister at The Hills Church’s North Richland Hills Campus. He has lead groups with Teen Lifeline since 2013 and has a particular passion for working with teenaged dads. He is able to form meaningful relationships with these teen dads because of the conversations had and resources that are exchanged. We are so glad that he has chosen to “get out of the boat!”


 

When I was a kid, I loved bumper boats (you know, bumper cars on water). I got a kick out of smashing into other unsuspecting bumper boat enthusiasts. The thing about bumper boats, however, is that you rarely react with the people in the other boats. You simply float from one person to the next and are never truly in control of what happens on the water. Sometimes, I think we approach life the same way. We wake up, get ready, coast through the day bumping into others only to get home, go to sleep, and repeat. It’s a chain reaction of events that simply lead to the next day, and we completely miss opportunities to fully engage people. So the question becomes, how do we break routine?

Perhaps the obvious first move is to get out of the boat. This looks different for everyone but for me, and many of us who work in the church, it means getting out of the office and engaging the community. That is why I love Teen Lifeline. Over the past three years I have worked with teen dads and been able to develop relationships with school administrators, staff, teachers, counselors, and students. As those relationships have developed, opportunities to engage people became a reality. Which leads me to the next crucial piece in breaking routine.

We have to keep our eyes open for opportunities to take the relationship deeper. I have found that such opportunities present themselves when a need is stated during group, which leads to a chance to engage outside of group. For example, during one session, my dads discussed several resources that were unavailable to them. Their needs ranged from being able to provide a turkey for Thanksgiving, buying Christmas presents for their children, to needing an attorney for various legal problems. In this situation, needs became opportunity to break routine. Coordinating with The Hills Church, each dad was given access to resources they desperately needed. Coincidently, none of this took place in our typical group meeting. It all happened outside group. We have to look beyond the group if we really want to engage lives.

When we engage people, understand their needs, and do more than simply bump into them, the routine of everyday life is shattered. Trust is earned and life moves from individuals bumping into one another to an adventure that is lived together. I love working with teen dads, and there is nothing like when one of them invites you into their life. Sometimes this even looks like a baby shower, a birthday party, or a wedding ceremony. This is life lived better, and there’s no telling what adventure tomorrow may bring.

 

Jason Herman is the Lead Student Minister at The Hills Church, North Richland Hills. He facilitates a Teen Lifeline Support Group for teenaged dads in Birdville ISD.