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!
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).