Table Talk

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Try a Technology-Free Table

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Chapter Two in The Family Dinner book presents “Ten Simple Steps to Successful Family Dinners.” A couple of those rules can be quickly summarized thus: “No Screens!”

No Phones: Do not answer the phone at dinner. Do not allow any cellphones at the table. No ringing, vibrating, answering, or texting allowed. If someone does bring their phone, take it away for as long as you decide to keep it. That will teach them to leave it elsewhere next time.

No Television: Of course, that also includes any electronic device like computers, iPads, Kindles, game devices, etc. Your kids will argue they can do three things at the same time (watch TV, eat, and listen closely to your every word, maybe even IM, too!), but it doesn’t matter.

As with all the rules in Chapter Two, pay no attention to the complaining. It’s just human nature to resist. Your job is to insist! Enforcement must apply to everyone (even Mom and Dad).

It’s important to talk to one another as a family at the table, as it may be one of the few times during the day you are all together. Modern technology may provide great tools for communication, education and entertainment. But at the family dinner table, it’s all just distraction.

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Table Talk: The Passing Of Nelson Mandela

Former President Nelson Mandela waves at the crowd on arrival at the inauguration ceremony at the Union Building in Pretoria. South Africa.

Each week, The Huffington Post presents a compelling topic to spark discussion at your dinner table. This week’s topic is the passing of Nelson Mandela

Story to read: Former South African President Nelson Mandela Dies At 95

What to say to your kids: Yesterday, we mourned the loss of 95-year-old former South African President, Nelson Mandela. Mandela was far more than just a political leader: he inspired people around the world by battling hatred and injustice. In particular, Mandela is famous for fighting the injustice of apartheid, a brutal system under which the South African government separated whites and non-whites.

Mandela was sent to prison for life in 1964 for opposition to the South African government; he was released in 1990. Thankfully, his painful struggle to end apartheid was not in vain. Three years after he was freed, he was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize, and in 1994, he became president of South Africa.

Tonight, let’s honor Nelson Mandela by reflecting on his words about loving the people around us: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Questions for discussion:

* What lessons can we take from Nelson Mandela’s personal and political accomplishments?

* Mandela went to jail for speaking up against his government. What would you do if you saw that someone was being unkind or unfair to others?

* Mandela said “people must learn to hate.” What do you think that means? How can you teach others how to love?

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Sweeten Your Dinner with a Cup of Gratitude

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After reading the 10 newest recipes for how to roast the perfect turkey (are they ever really new?), after writing then losing the mile long grocery list, and after all the shopping and prepping, stuffing, and table setting is done…take a breath. Light the candles. Invite everyone to sit down around the table and just for a moment let’s talk about what Thanksgiving is really about…

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Table Talk: The End of Trans Fats

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Each week, The Huffington Post presents a compelling topic to spark discussion at your dinner table.

Topic: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is moving to ban trans fats.

Story to read: The Associated Press explains the FDA’s plan.

What to say to your kids: The FDA — a government-run group that makes sure everyone has safe food and medicine — is taking steps to get rid of a type of ingredient in our food called trans fats. According to the AP, “Trans fats are used both in processed food and in restaurants, often to improve the texture, shelf life or flavor of foods.” You may have eaten foods that have trans fats in them — like popcorn, doughnuts, frozen pizza and canned frosting. However, they aren’t good for you, because they can clog up arteries and stop your blood from flowing throughout the body.

Questions for discussion:

• Do you think the FDA is right to want trans fats out of foods?

• Why do you think the FDA hasn’t banned trans fats before now?

• Can you name foods that you eat that have trans fats in them? (Hint: You can tell by looking at the ingredients on the package)

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Table Talk: The Student Who Discovered A Dinosaur Fossil

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Each week, The Huffington Post presents a compelling topic to spark discussion at your dinner table.

Can you imagine finding a dinosaur fossil during a class field trip? That’s exactly what happened to Kevin Terris a few years ago, when he was in high school. While exploring a park in Utah called the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, he found a tiny piece of bone. He showed a paleontologist — a scientist who studies fossils — and after looking into it, experts discovered that Kevin had indeed found part of a baby dinosaur skeleton from around 75 million years ago. They nicknamed the fossil — which is apparently “the smallest, youngest and most complete duck-billed dinosaur of its kind ever found” — “Joe.”

To see “Joe” for yourself, click here — or visit California’s Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology.

Questions for discussion:

* What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever found in nature?

* What can scientists learn from the fossils they find?

* Do you have a favorite dinosaur?

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