The positive effect that family dinners have on children, especially teenagers, has been highlighted by a study carried out by Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA).
The study surveyed 1,000 teenagers and found that more than half of them believed that the best time to talk about something important with their parents was at family dinners. An overwhelming 80% of them preferred having family dinners rather than eating alone. The CASA report also says, “12-13-year-olds who have infrequent family dinners having higher chances of using marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol.”
These results suggest that family dinners are a great time for parents and children to bond and improve their relationships. In addition, the study found that children who have less than three family dinners in a week are likelier to do twice as badly in school, meaning family dinners also provide educational benefits.
The obvious health benefit of family dinners was reinforced by Dr. Clare Collins, Associate Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Newcastle. “Kids who eat in front of the television eat greater proportions of junk food,” says Dr. Collins. Many psychologists and dieticians support this parenting advice on account of the string of benefits that it brings. In fact, children who eat dinner with the family are more likely to eat serving of fruits and vegetables as compared to those who eat alone.
The biggest obstacle to family dinners though is getting the family together almost everyday and is a challenge to parenting skills. Even the first lady, Michelle Obama, in a People magazine interview said that the president and their two daughters, Malia and Sasha try to have dinner together almost every night.