Table Time! How Parents and Kids Can Make Family Meals Count

Why are Family Dinners Important?

It isn’t always easy to eat dinner together as a family. Research from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) has found that when they asked teens and parents why they didn’t eat dinner more often together, the two groups of people blamed each other.

The number one response for teens? Parents were either at work or had a late work shift.

The number one response for parents? Everybody is busy and has different activities.

Research studies, however, continue to highlight the power of family dinners. Now a new study 1 from CASA at Columbia University has been released, and it says that teenagers who don’t eat dinner frequently with their family are:

  • Twice as likely to use tobacco
  • Almost twice as likely to use alcohol
  • More likely to use marijuana

The same is true with grades in school:

  • Teenagers who have five to seven family dinners per week are more likely to get As and Bs in school.
  • Teenagers who have fewer than three family dinners per week are twice as likely to report receiving mostly Cs and lower grades in school.

How Parents and Kids Can Make Family Meals Count!

When you gather around the table, make it count! Talk about what’s going on in your lives. Tell jokes. Discuss current events. Make family meals fun! Use the Table Time! Family Meals Toolkit to help you plan a quick, quality family dinner, or the ultimate family date night!

Download the Family Meals Toolkit >>

What If We’re too Busy for Family Dinner?

When everyone is too busy to be at home for regular family dinners, it’s time to come up with creative solutions. Work family time in around times that you are all together—a mandated family breakfast can be just as effective as regular family dinner together. In many ways, it doesn’t matter which meal you eat together. What matters is doing it as often as you can, and then making the time worthwhile.


1. The Importance of Family Dinners VII (The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 2011).



I have an 18 year old who just left for college. I am amazed at what dinner has done for us as a family. We have come together and bonded. We tell about what is going on in our lives and we set goals. If we take the dinner time out of our lives, we take the explanation and goals out of our lives. It is amazing how much my son took with him when he left. I feel proud of our family altogether.

Sincerely yours,

Zulema Alvarez

at first i want to say thanks for telling me about such amazing research about family dinner, as i m a mother of 9 years old son as well as i m a preschool teacher, it is a great idea for spending sufficient time with family.

sincerely yours
priya luthra

i like it very much .

Dear All, It is a great & nice idea to spend time with family while having dinner which should be applied to all, nuclear as well as joint family. We can discuss things, events whatever is happen on the day throughout. We can asked each other, in husband wife relation also, any changing things in the daily routine. It shows & develop respecting, caring, loving attitute among family. We can simply discuss & also advice some changes in the ways of looking, listening, thinking, behaving & working in the future. In these type of discussion, first, listening from teenagers (about their daily routine) should be done properly (without any previous image, inention or law) as they have too much things to share about their teacher/ friends/ other family person’ behaviour & what is happening ‘special’ in their day as everyone needs to having attention 1st, by others. (as 1-2 month’ child also reqd. attention, it cries, of all especially mother when hungry/thirsty/ when feeling lonely). We can advice to our childrens to keep one small diary with them & write the any special idea, memorable thing, event which is happening on each day, they should be learned that each day of our life is important & should be spend wisely. They should processed daily any special liking like drawing, handicrafts etc. there should be change in each day….should be memorable…..

Warm Regards,
Sandesh D Patil


I definately agree with what the article suggests. I’m 48, a father of four, I have taken it from my family tradition whereas, everyone has to be on the table at meals time. That was the time that our late mother (May God Rest Her Soul In Peace) and father (May God Give Him more Healthierand Happier Days) start cracking jokes. They will talk about their good days and teasing each other. It was more or less like in the Cosby Show.
I have taken over the tradition, that is the time I can get all the information from school and soccer news from my two young sons, the 15 years old boy, though a bit shy could come out with his problems and the oldest pretty one could tell me and her mother about her business ambitions and dreams. It’s really wonderful.

Sincerely your,

Sele Jabir


I fullly agree to the comments made.How important is parenting skills.

Thanks for a learning opportunity.

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