Many families are now making mealtime family time. Here are eight reasons why this is a great idea:
- Kids who eat dinner with their families regularly are less likely to be involved in at-risk behaviors. A 2009 study found that children who eat dinner with their families infrequently (less than three times a week) are twice as likely to use tobacco or marijuana and almost twice as likely to use alcohol than teens who have five to seven family dinners a week.
- Families who eat dinner together regularly are more likely to have stronger, happier family relationships. As families struggle to find quantity and quality time together, dinnertime provides the opportunity for both. Teens who frequently eat dinner with their families are likelier to say they have excellent relationships with their parents, and teens who have infrequent family dinners are likelier to say they have fair or poor relationships with their parents. When families hang out together and communicate, they grow stronger and healthier.
- Kids who eat dinner with their families regularly perform better in school. According to the latest research, compared to teens who have frequent family dinners, teens who have fewer than three family dinners per week are one-and-a-half times likelier to report getting mostly C’s or lower grades in school.
- Families who eat dinner together regularly develop a stronger family identity. Additionally, this family routine establishes a sense of stability and security that provides kids with a positive environment where they can grow into healthy adults.
- Families who eat dinner together regularly can keep in touch with each other’s lives. Everyone—kids and parents alike—can keep up to date during family dinnertime on what is going on with school, jobs, family life, and friends.
- A regular family dinnertime provides natural opportunities for planning and problem solving. Scheduling family meeting times to discuss these issues can be difficult. A regular family mealtime can offer a natural solution to the challenge.
- Eating dinner together fosters learning. When families who eat dinner together engage in a variety of conversation topics, learning is encouraged. Kids who are exposed to regular family discussion times learn a broader vocabulary than those who do not.
- Kids are more likely to receive better nutrition when eating dinner regularly with their families. Family dinnertime means kids are more likely to eat a nutritionally-balanced meal that is lower in sugar and fat than if they prepare or purchase meals on their own.
Some might shy away from regular family dinners because life is busy and a family meal requires time. But the latest research shows that the average family meal lasts just thirty-five minutes. That’s not a lot of time, and every minute provide great benefits for your family!