Growing up in my family, sitting down for dinner all together was a nightly thing. It was just something we always did. Likely because it was something my parents always did when they were growing up, so they just carried on the tradition. Now that I’m grown with kids of my own, sitting down to eat dinner together as a family is a regular thing in our house, too. It gives us all the chance to sit and talk about our day, catch up on our schedules, or simply just chat and laugh and spend time together. For me, family dinners are a normal thing and part of our regular routine! For some families though, they're not. Studies show that sitting down together as a family to eat a meal every single day is so important for many different reasons.
Here, I’ve gathered some of the proven reasons why you should prioritize the importance of the family meal:
Better Grades: We all want our kids to excel in school, right? Well, a study at Columbia University showed that kids who eat most often with their parents are 40% more likely to get mainly A’s and B’s in school than kids who have two or fewer family dinners a week.
Better Mental Health: Research examining 5,000 teenagers has shown that when children eat with their parents regularly, they are more likely to be emotionally strong and have better mental health. Regular family dinners give kids greater self-esteem and lowers their risk of depression.
Better Food Choices: Trying to get more veggies into the kiddos is always a struggle! However, surveys have found that 9 to 14-year-olds who eat dinner with their families most frequently, consumed more fruits and vegetables and less soda and fried foods. Their diets also had higher amounts of many key nutrients, like calcium, iron, and fiber.
Better Stress Management: A lot of parents find themselves feeling stressed all the time. If you’re one of them, a Brigham Young University study found that working parents were less stressed when they sat down to a family meal at the end of their workday.
Better Family Relationships: Having a strong family connection is something I think all parents strive for. In a recent Columbia University study, 71% of teenagers said they consider talking, catching-up, and spending time with family members as the best part of family dinners.
The biggest takeaway from this is; people connect over food. At every age. Even if it’s a dinner out at a restaurant because you don’t feel like cooking, you’re still sitting around a table together eating, talking and connecting. That’s good for your kids…and you!
If you’re struggling with nightly meals, keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be every single night if you can’t manage it. Times have changed and plenty of parents work nights, opposite shifts or have kids in activities. Some nights, a family meal around the table just isn’t possible. So, simply make an effort to have MORE family dinners around the table each week.
As you can see…it has many benefits. So, let’s all prioritize sitting down and eating together!