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Eat Dinner Together

by Teresa, The CuteKid™ Staff

Studies have shown that something as simple as eating dinner together as a family every night can have a major impact upon the happiness and well-being of both parents and children. But with today’s busy schedules most families are lucky to eat dinner together

about four days a week and the numbers decrease as children get older. Yet eating dinner together is so important. It is one of the things that happy families do and here’s why:

Eating dinner together increases communication. The
National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Colombia University found that parents who eat with their children at least five times a week report having a better relationship with their child. The reason is simple as you are sharing a meal you are also sharing conversation. The dinner table is a perfect place to discuss what is happening in each family member’s life, although parents do need to be careful not to control the conversation or discuss any topics that could cause conflict.

Children who eat dinner with their families have better academic performance In the same study researchers found that teens that eat dinner with their family are more likely to receive A’s and B’s than teens that do not. Elementary students also benefit academically from family dinners. Another study found that preschoolers who eat dinner together with their families have better language skills because they hear adult conversation around the table.

Families that eat dinner together eat healthier. When meals are cooked at home they typically have less fat and higher amounts of fiber, minerals, and vitamins. A Harvard study found "that children who ate family dinners more frequently had more healthy eating habits" overall, even when not at home. They also typically "consume more vegetables, fruit and juice, and less soda."

Family dinners foster healthy child development Family eating dinners together help ensure that a child will make good choices. In the report, The Importance of Family Dinners III, it shows that teens who eat dinner two or fewer night a week are more than twice as likely to smoke or try marijuana, and one and half times more likely to drink alcohol. Another study by Drs. Bowden and Zeisz reported that teens who ate dinner with their families were overall "less likely to do drugs or be depressed and were more motivated at school and had better relationships." Family dinners were a “marker for other positive family attributes” and provided the stability and source of communication that children need.

Of course eating dinner together as a family doesn’t guarantee that your child will get A’s in school or never smoke but statistically your chances are better if you just sit down at the table and eat dinner together.