Are Northfield’s over-scheduled kids missing too many family meals?

In last week’s Strib South: Dakota County hopes to bring kids to table: Kids who eat family meals have fewer risky behaviors.

The more often children eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink, use illegal drugs or have thoughts of suicide, Montagne said. “The research shows that children who eat five or more meals with their families are less likely to be involved in risky behaviors,” she said.

If you need help figuring out what to talk about with your kids at mealtime, see the May issue of the Northfield Healthy Community Initiative newsletter:

The Northfield Mayor’s Task Force (MTF) on Youth Alcohol & Drug Use, in collaboration with Project Sight, has created a ‘Talking Points’ program for parents looking for ways to jumpstart conversations with their children. The goal of Talking Points is to encourage open communication between adults and teenagers that supports efforts to raise healthy teens.

Let's Talk Let's Talk Let's Talk Let's Talk

Look for these ‘Talking Points’ materials at these Northfield businesses which are participating in the program: Bittersweet Eatery, James Gang Coffeehouse, and the Hideaway Coffeehouse and Wine Bar. And see Nfld News publisher Sam Gett’s July 15 column.

In 1997, I moderated an NCO online forum titled Building Cohesive Families in a Hurried World in partnership with the Healthy Community Initiative (HCI), KYMN Radio, Northfield News, and NTV.

The forum was based on a recently published book titled, “The Intentional Family” by William J. Doherty. Doherty is a practicing family therapist and Director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at the University of Minnesota

For Doherty, “intentional” means deliberately using strategies in the typical rituals of family life — family meals, vacations, bedtimes, holidays, civic and religious activities, etc. With some planning and creativity, well-executed family rituals can strengthen and nourish our connections to one another that are easily eroded by the stresses and strains our culture places on families.

Doherty participated in panel discussions in the NCO Web Cafe, and was interviewed for an NTV special broadcast. Other participating panelists were:

  • Mary Carlsen – Chair, Department of Social Work, St. Olaf College
  • Kathy Galotti – Professor of Psychology, Carleton College
  • Will Healy – Pastor, Emmaus Baptist Church
  • Mary Loven – Parent Educator, Family Education Center
  • Len Witt – Director, Minnesota Public Radio Civic Journalism Initiative; Family Strength Project

Bill Doherty and colleagues later launched Putting Family First.


  1. Meals are great, but I think playing old-fashioned board games works very well too. Monopoly, Risk, Settlers of Cataan, Carcazonne, are all opportunities to interact for an hour or so without tv or radio. Very handy on cold winter nights.

    August 23, 2008
  2. Andy Alt said:

    This seems like a good post to add this notice into. I started a new site yesterday called Mental Health in Northfield MN

    This site is specifically dedicated to mental health and related resources in Northfield, MN

    This is NOT a site for my special brand of humor. I’d like to have some help with it. People to contribute postings for events, information, anything related to Mental Health. Take a look and you’ll get an idea for what it will be. It’s in the making, so what it will be I do not yet know. Any suggestions as to content are welcome. If you don’t wish to register in order to contribute, send me anything you’d like posted and I’ll take a look. You can use the contact form at the site. The URL is
    Thank you.

    September 4, 2008

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