Statistics gathered by the Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University clearly indicate that children who regularly dine with their parents tend to become healthier, happier and better students. The communication that occurs over the course of a meal is critical in building a relationship between you and your children and helps you understand the challenges they face. Studies consistently show that the more often kids eat with their family, the likelier they are to get better grades in school, and the less likely they are to develop eating disorders or vices (like smoking, drinking or even using prohibited drugs).
Other Benefits of Shared Meals:
- Children with loving and involved parents feel that they are cared for and enjoy a feeling of security and belonging.
- Shared mealtimes also allow younger children to pick up big words, helping them expand their vocabulary and giving them a sense of how conversation is structured.
- Parents are able to monitor their children’s food choices, resulting in better overall nutrition and a more varied diet.
- Children are better able to learn good manners and proper behavior when they are exposed to good role models like their parents.
- Teenagers with strong parental bonds are less prone to depression and have better relationships with friends.
- During the course of a meal, children learn to listen to other people’s concerns, hear how a problem is solved, and learn to respect different opinions and tastes.
- Tension or stress between family members are reduced, with all conflicts possibly being settled over the course of a meal.
The Surprising Power of Family Meals by Miriam Weinstein,
The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine – August 2004, Becky Hand-Licensed and Registered Dietician
The Magic of the Family Meal, Nancy Gibbs
Overscheduled Kids, Underconnected Families: The Research Evidence by William Doherty, Ph.D., Family Social Sciences Department, University of Minnesota