The Denver Autism Wheel

Posts Tagged ‘time

I just read an article that states once again that parenting is a full-contact sport. Not only is it important to sign your kids’ report cards and drive them to soccer practice. It’s also important to look at their beautiful faces once in a while. Here are some of the benefits of eating meals with your kids.
1) You stand a better chance of being able to talk to them about what’s important…to them. The other night, I got to hear all about the advantages of playing Minecraft in “survival mode.” Who knew? It’s not that I’m going to go play the game or anything, but Luke wanted to tell me about what he’s up to, and paying attention to him means he understands he’s important to me.
2) You stand a better chance of putting something nutritious in their mouths. The article I mentioned at the beginning of this rant is in US News and World Report today. It explained that kids mimic their parents’ eating habits. OK, that makes sense, and it benefits two generations: parents, who eat better foods to set a good example for their kids, and kids, who base their eating habits on what they see their parents eating.
3) You get good food into everybody. I’ve written about this before, but the grownups eat the same thing the kids eat at our house. In one context, it sets the bar for me to make sure everybody gets their fruits and veggies and lean protein. In another, it keeps me away from processed, pre-packaged meals because, while they’re easy, Karl makes faces at them. Because they tend to be high in fat and preservatives, they aren’t healthy for his middle-aged adult body. If he doesn’t want it, I don’t feed it to any of us.
4) You get to look into their beautiful faces during the whole meal. I don’t know what your house looks like, but mine has people working, doing homework, playing musical instruments and sports, going to meetings, going to sleepovers…there’s not a lot of face time. Except at dinner (and most breakfasts). These moments are phone-free and distraction-free. We talk about our day, we talk about our meal, whatever. But we’re all there, face to face. I know the kids don’t see it this way, but as a mom, I cherish these times because Chris is 12, and I only get him for another…gulp!…6 years. So, another benefit is…
5) You know where they are during that meal. Not just physically, because, yes, we’re all sitting around the same table. But mentally, too. We get to hear about science projects, homework assignments, the gossip in the fourth grade classroom or the sixth grade hallway. That’s priceless intel when you want to get a picture of your child’s world when you’re not around. And: it sows the seeds that you’re approachable, in case they need to talk about something worrisome or bad. You’ve already established that their world is interesting.
6) You establish the expected behaviors for the kids when they are at the table. Social cues are not organic, particularly for Chris, but also for Luke. And manners count at the table. This is an important place for both the autistic and the typical kid to learn social skills together. And sure, they graze when they get home from school (a mouthful of cereal here, a handful of grapes there), but mealtimes are for sitting down, sitting still for the whole meal, eating with utensils, speaking clearly and quietly, and keeping your elbows near your body. That way, we are in better shape if we visit relatives for dinner or go to a restaurant. They already know how we expect them to behave when the food arrives.


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