The idea is to create a safe place—a place where your child feels free to say whatever is on his or her mind. You can probe, clarify, and explore, but the moment you pass judgment without listening is the moment your child begins to clam up. Of course, this doesn’t mean you don’t set rules and boundaries. It just means you let your child be heard before you lay down the law. It keeps tears and tantrums to a minimum and, in the process, earns your child’s respect.

2. Keep a Confidence

What happens at the dinner table stays at the table—or in the car or wherever you have heart-to-heart conversations with your children. You may think that only adults prize the confidence of others, but it holds true for kids, too. All that needs to happen is for them to hear you talking about them to a friend, saying something that may seem harmless to you but is embarrassing to your children, and you have instantly lost trustworthiness in your kids’ eyes.

Let’s say your son tells you about feeling lonely on the playground or inadequate in art class. You’re talking to your girlfriend about whatever comes to mind and you mention your son’s name. He pricks up his ears even though he’s on the other side of the room watching television. You don’t give it a second thought as you tell your girlfriend how your heart is breaking for him during school recess. Your son immediately turns off the tube, goes to his room, and closes the door. What just happened? you wonder. He might tell you at some point. Then again, he might not. He may just decide then and there not to talk to you about his feelings again. Like everyone else, he wants to know that his confessions are held in confidence. If they’re not, home doesn’t feel so safe anymore.

Did You Know?

The majority of teens in America—67 percent—want to spend more time with their parents.

More Than Just a Wholesome Meal

Without knowing it, Stephanie and her band of “sisters” had stumbled onto the power of an age-old practice that has been slowly slipping into extinction. Before trying her fix-and-freeze method, Stephanie, like so many other women in twenty-first-century families, had all but given up on having a regular family dinnertime. Darting in and out of fast-food joints between work, school plays, and soccer practices, Stephanie didn’t realize that she was forfeiting more than just a wholesome meal. However, as she began practicing the fix-and-freeze method, it dawned on her that she was beginning to gain the most treasured sixty minutes of her day.

Late one night, after a group of moms had gone, Stephanie and longtime friend Tina Kuna were up to their elbows in soapsuds. They began talking about the positive difference their little system was proving to make and wondering where it might go. After all, neither felt right turning anyone away. Yet they were getting more requests than they could handle. As it turned out, what began as an attempt to draw their own families together around the table eventually led to a partnership with each other and the founding of a business they call Dream Dinners, a fix-and-freeze company reaching more than one million families each year.

The Dream of Dream Dinners

Dream Dinners was founded with a mission of bringing families together around the dinner table. Food and families are at the heart of everything Dream Dinners does as they provide guests who visit their locations with all the ingredients they need for a great meal. Dream Dinners offers freedom from the hassles surrounding the planning and preparation of meals night after night and allows families to come together at the end of the day to eat a delicious, healthy meal. Little could Stephanie and Tina have known just how powerful that one hour around the table would be—both for their own families and for so many others.