I have clear memories of my family – 6 of us in all – sitting down to dinner together each night around our small, white kitchen table. It was cozy, but we made room for each other.
Informally taking turns, we would share our day’s highs and lows, laugh at goofy things that happened at school, and talk about events in the news.
As we got older, each of us kids was tasked with preparing the meal one day per week, giving us the opportunity to learn responsibility as we did our part in our family community. We all had our jobs and were expected to contribute.
I recently came across a study about families eating dinner together and the impact that may have on child development. It is an affirmation to have the science back up what we instinctively know is good for our families and our children.
From The Science of Learning, the main findings of this survey of almost 100,000 students from over 213 cities include:
- More than half of young teenagers ate dinner with their family 5-7 timings a week. This number dropped to just over a third for older teenagers.
- Children who regularly ate dinner with their family reported enhanced:
- communication with their parents
- parental involvement in school
- motivation levels
- school engagement and time spent on homework
- ability to plan and make decisions
- optimism about their future
- Children who regularly ate dinner with their family reported less:
- alcohol use
- tobacco use
- drug use
- depressive symptoms
- Anti-social behavior
- violent tendencies
- problems at school
Building the strength of your family now will pay off in the future health and well-being of your children. Set them up for success by creating the expectation of sitting down to device-free meals full of communication and relationship-building.
Those family dinners from my childhood are part of the bond my siblings and I have today. When we have the opportunity to cozy up together for a meal, we delight in sharing our life highs and lows, reminiscing about the goofy events in our youth, and talking about the news of the day.
My parents may not have known the science, but they did know about creating a family.
Here’s a great site with lots of information on this topic. CIO Meals Matter!
Are you ever stuck for a conversation started with your child? Need to go beyond “How was school today?”? Check out this website with lots of alternative questions to get you going. CIO