You know, there used to be a time, oh maybe 40 or so years ago, when families sat together for practically every meal. It was a great opportunity for parents and kids to sit together and bond; to discuss what had transpired in their lives throughout the course of the day.
Fast forward to the present and you’ll be lucky to see a lot of families in the kitchen all at once. Parents are working longer hours (sometimes, not even the same shift) and kids have so many after-school activities that “challenging” doesn’t even begin to explain how difficult it is to get everyone into one place.
However, there continues to be studies that reflect the fact that it’s extremely important for families to make time for family dinner; that it should be a priority, no matter what, because it has a myriad of benefits to it. If you’re curious to know what those reasons could be, here are five vital ones.
It opens up the lines of communication. One of the main reasons why the entire family should make time to have dinner together is one that we’ve already touch on: It’s a good way to stay in touch with one another’s lives. At dinner, each person can share what happened at work or school, while providing the other family members the chance to share their views or opinions. Not only is it a good way to get some good advice or counsel, but it reminds everyone that in this big world, there’s always the support of family.
It keeps certain risks down. Did you know that children who eat dinner with their parents have a significantly lower risk of not being an underage drinker, not smoking marijuana, not abusing prescription drugs and not trying cigarettes? There a couple of reasons why this is the case. One is due to the fact that parents continue to be the greatest influence in their children’s lives (even over their peers). So, when they’re getting consistent and positive attention from them, the kids don’t see as much of a need to fill their internal voids elsewhere. Another reason is because when kids are left to “fend for themselves” when it comes to dinner time hours, they are more likely to associate with other kids who participate in at-risk behaviors (this would include sex as well).
It lowers the chance of obesity. With obesity currently being considered an epidemic in America, we all should want to do whatever we can to keep from being a part of those statistics. Family dinners increase the possibility of making meals that are better for everyone because since it requires planning, there tends to be a willingness to prepare the meals beforehand as well. Foods that are cooked fresh from home (perhaps even trying a couple baked fish or Shahiya recipes every once in a while) beats a fast-food burger on any night of the week.
It improves kids’ grades. If when it comes to your children’s academic performance, if the conversations pretty much consist of you saying, “Hey, do you have any homework tonight?” and them saying, “No”, sooner or later, you’re going to find yourself hearing some surprising things at a parent/teacher conference. When you’re seeing your kids every day at the dinner table, it opens up the opportunity to really inquire about how they’re doing in school. After all, it’s hard to give a one-word reply when they have to look at you for 30 minutes.
It lowers stress levels. A lot of parents worry because they don’t feel like they know what’s going on with their kids. A lot of kids worry because they don’t always feel like their parents care to know. Both of these issues can be averted by sitting down and having dinner every night. And if everyone can go to bed each night in a relatively peaceful state of mind, that should be incentive enough to eat together—in one room, at one time, at one table, right? Right.