I stumbled across this adorable video the other day, and started to think about how important dinner as a family is. From my experience, it's an often overlooked event that has the potential to really connect all members of the family in a rewarding and supportive way. Even if the whole family can only come together a few times a week, I think the benefits are substantial:
Brain Power -
Younger kids who have frequent family meals were seen to have a higher working vocabulary. Exposure to conversation over meals increases mental activity and expands your kids minds.
Older children benefit too - regular family meals were associated with better achievement in high school tests.
Body Fuel -
When the whole family eats together, younger children were seen to eat more healthy foods, and a wider variety of fruits and vegetables.
Older children who regularly have a family mean were, in some studies, seen to have better immune functions.
Spiritual Connections -
Perhaps most importantly, adolescents in families who ate meals together regularly were shown to have more resilience to depression and peer pressures. Communicating regularly as a family might instill values and integrate stronger belief systems into your teenage children.
A New Zealand study found that as well as avoiding negative behaviors, teenagers were more likely to have positive affect and a generally higher sense of well-being.
Of course studies like this don't show a cause, and just show correlations, but it seems that these studies indicate that it's good for your kids. It also seems in the video above that your kids, regardless of what they might say, actually want the connection with family over dinner.
Some serious food for thought.
Psychotherapy Intern (MFTi #96508)