Wonder how your kids are really doing? Try this.

Each evening at dinner have a different member of the family lead the grace, then follow it with a “plus and minus” statement—that person’s opportunity to tell one positive and one negative aspect of his or her day. Each family member then takes a turn with the plus and minus statement. Only after each person has said his or her two items does free-flowing conversation begin. David M. Thomas, father of seven children and 74 foster children, and author of A Community of Love: Spirituality of Family Life (ACTA), has been doing this with his family for almost 30 years. “As a parent, I have found this ritual a remarkably painless way to find out what is going on in the lives of our children.”       

—by Annemarie Scobey, from At Home with Our Faith newsletter, which just won the 2010 award for General Excellence from the Catholic Press Association.

 Take a look at At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home—read a sample issue.   We offer very low rates for parish use, as well as our free Moms’ Night Out  monthly discussion guides.

And don’t miss our popular single-page parish handouts on handing on the faith, helping kids understand the Mass, Lent, and Advent.

A new concept: Dinner with your family

Stock up on mac & cheese or whatever is your kids’ favorite dinner in preparation for Family DayA Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children, which will be celebrated across the country this Monday, September 28.

Family Day is brought to you by the folks at The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA).   CASA Chairman Joseph A. Califano, Jr. says, “If I could wave a magic wand to make a dent in our nation’s substance abuse problem, I would make sure that every child in America had dinner with his or her parents at least five times a week.”

And while you’re at it, check out CASA’s research on raising drug-free kids.

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