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Family Dinner Fosters Trust And Encourages Teens And Adolescents To Confide In Parents

Family time is a great way to connect and make kids feel safe. Research shows regular family traditions create strong bonds. For a Salt Lake family, that means firing up the grill and nourishing body and soul.

The Lynch family is all about cuisine.

“We love food,” said Alice Lynch, a mother of five who lives in Salt Lake City.

Her son, 14-year-old Jordan, likes that family dinner is a priority. “It kind of brings us together after a long day of being everywhere else.”

Alice said, “They’re kind of my captive audience because they have a plate of food in front of them and they want to eat it.”

They want to eat it most of the time. Carter Lynch, age 12, said it “depends on the meal.”

Therapist say when adolescents and teens feel connected, bigger subjects are easier to discuss. “Most definitely,” Carter said. “Because they kind of have always been there for me. I know I can go to them if I need help.”

Matt Swenson, a child psychiatrist at Intermountain Healthcare, says it doesn’t have to be dinner. The key is nurturing trust. “I need to sit down with my son or daughter and make it safe to talk sensitive subjects: death, sex, drugs,” he said. “I think that part of safety is you start the conversation. It’s not so much about the words, but being open and really listening.”

“Sometimes you learn a lot actually,” said Jared Lynch, father.

Swenson recommends sitting down at the beginning of the school year and saying: “Just so you know, if you’re struggling at any point this year with anxiety with sadness with attendance, with stresses at home, you’re just having a hard time keeping up, I want to know about it.”

That way, they know you’re there for them.

Alice said, “No matter what is going on in their lives, they can always count on coming home and there will be all of us together every day.”

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