The Importance of Having Family Dinners Together

Some families will sit down at the dining room table and eat every single meal together, while other families will come to the kitchen, make their plates, and go their own ways to eat. You may be wondering, can eating dinner together as a family benefit children in any way?

Believe it or not, sitting down together to connect with one another is actually healthy in many ways for the entire family, especially your children. So, how does enjoying meals together at the table help in childhood development? Here are just a few of the many benefits of having family dinners together.

Improved Eating Habits and Better Weight Management

When the family eats together, everyone is more likely to have a better overall diet. This is particularly true with teenagers. In one study, teens were shown to consume less sugar and fast food and more fruits and vegetables when they ate with their families.

Another study found that there is a direct link between eating dinner together as a family throughout adolescence and reduced risk of weight issues a decade later. The study found that at least one to two meals per week can help children from dealing with weight problems down the road.

In the end, children who consume more home cooking with their families are simply in better physical health from making better food choices. This goes for adults as well.

Improved Self-Esteem

The self-esteem of adolescents is extremely important, as they tend to be more vulnerable to personal attacks than adults. Spending time with the family at the dinner table has shown that children will have more confidence. This is because children are encouraged to discuss their day—good and bad—while parents actively listen.

Improved Academic Performance

It has also been shown that shared family dinners can help contribute to better grades and overall academic performance in children. One study found that children who shared less than three meals with their families per week were twice as likely to get Cs or worse. However, children who shared meals with their family at least five to seven times each week were able to report primarily As and Bs.               

Improved Mental Health

Sitting down for a meal as a family can help improve the mental health of children. One study found that regularly shared family dinners resulted in a reduced chance of children experiencing depression and using drugs. Another study has shown that regular family dinners can prevent violent behavior, suicidal thoughts, and eating disorders, as well as depression and substance use.

So, can eating dinner together as a family benefit children? Yes! Family dinners can have a positive impact on a child’s life while also helping the family bond with one another. While family dinners may be chaotic here and there, you can rest easy knowing that there truly are benefits to eating with your children.

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