Family Day: A Day to Eat Dinner with your Childrennewby.17 | September 23, 2009
September 28, 2009 is Family Day, a day for families to eat dinner together. Why dinner? Research shows that family meals are almost magical. Almost every benefit you could want for your child and your family has been shown to be related to the simple act of sitting down without the TV and eating a meal together.
What kind of benefits?
- In one study family meals were the largest predictor (more than sports, church or studying) of academic success and fewer behavioral problems for children 3-12.
- Family Meals are associated with vocabulary and sophisticated word use in children.
And the results just get better as the children get older…
- One study of adolescents found a strong correlation between regular family meals (five or more meals a week with at least one parent) and academic success, psychological adjustment and lower rates of alcohol use, drug use, sexual activity, and suicide risk.
- Children 9-14 who had regular meals with their families also had more healthful eating patterns, consumed more fruits and vegetables, less trans and saturated fats and less sodas.
- Furthermore, one study found that college students with eating disorders engaged in less family meals as a child
But the benefit is not longer just for the children…
- a recent study found that more frequent family meals were correlated with adult life satisfaction.
Despite these huge benefits, we also know that families taking time for meals together are declining- almost 1/3 of a decline since 1970. Among the reason cited are TV, weeknight activities, and cleaning. Isn’t it ironic to you that in an age where we have sophisticated devices to communicate with people across the world, we find that one of the greatest predictors of so many good things for our families is actually to disconnect for a little while and tune in to the lives of those around us. Family meal time does not have to be a fancy, laborious event. Sometimes all that children need is for you to listen to them and pass the salt and pepper.
Take a night off from all the running around on Sept 28th and spend a night with your family. Make them their favorite meal and listen to them. You never know what kind of impact it is having.
Update: A new study in the 2010 march issue of Pediatrics shows that preschoolers who eat a meal together as a family, in addition to getting adequate sleep and less TV time have a 40% lower prevalence of childhood obesity! Check it out.