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Key Reasons To Make Time For Family Dinner

By: Donna Chaffins | Date: October 23, 2012 | Categories: Family and Health, Guest Posts, Parenting

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You get to a point in life where everyone’s schedules are so busy there’s hardly any time for the family to sit down as a whole for dinner. Between soccer practice, dance class, work and going to the gym, it’s difficult to plan a time that everyone is available for. Because of this, families are spending less time together as a whole, and it’s having an impact on the children.

According to studies, families who eat meals together help to reduce the chance of adolescents engaging in risky behaviors such as smoking, drinking, drugs and even sexual behaviors growing up. This is due to the conversation and cohesiveness that family meals help to instill in a child’s mind.

When families make it a point to sit down for dinner together five or more times a week, this time spent together can serve as an open floor for ongoing conversation and communication, allowing each family member to share about their days and what’s happening in their lives.

Dinner time also provides an opportunity for parents to learn and recognize everyday aspects of their children’s lives. Whether the news is important or nothing out of the ordinary, this type of environment can allow for the development of three important features in a parent/child relationship:

1. Creating a very basic level of comfort that enhances and eases the process of communicating in general. This allows for a natural structure for discussing things that are perhaps more sensitive and difficult for kids and parents to talk about, such as substance use and sexual health.

2. Showing that you’re interested in learning about your children’s day shows that parent’s are making an effort to make their kids a priority, which resonates with children. This creates a sense of trust, which is crucial in any relationship, especially between parents and children. A sense of trust will allow for more initiating and engaging in potentially difficult conversations down the road.

3. Spending quality time with children at dinner is also providing parents with the opportunity to identify any changes in patterns. This includes clothing, friends and grades. These changes are indicators of problems that could result in anything from substance use to other risky behaviors.

A great idea is to set some dinner time rules where everyone needs to leave their technological devices in the other room. This includes distractions such as cell phones, TV, computers, music or even reading books. If you or your children are using these items at the dinner table, you will not find the same type of results as you would without any of these distractions.

In the end, evidence shows that children who eat regular meals with their families are less apt to turn to substance use and place themselves at sexual risk, and have a smaller chance of developing mental health problems, violence, aggression and difficulties in schools.

It’s common for schedules to get busy and interfere with family dinners sometimes, but that doesn’t mean the conversation needs to stop. Family meals ultimately offer the type of environment that creates the easiest line of communication between parents and children, but don’t let that keep you from talking to your kids at other opportune times. Take advantage of the moments you have with your children to talk, even if it’s in the car on the way to soccer practice and dance rehearsal. If you interact with your children and show interest in what’s happening in their lives, it will make a lasting impact with the way they develop into adults.

Alaina Mason is a freelance writer and health advocate. As a social worker, she studies how different home environments impact the children she works with. She has done a great deal of research on how getting a social work degree online can make her a better social worker and provide her patients with better care.

24 Responses to Key Reasons To Make Time For Family Dinner

  1. It really is so important to make time for family dinners – especially when the kids are old enough to really have conversations around the dinner table!

  2. Sheri says:

    I agree. It’s a great way to connect with your kids each day.

  3. Family dinner is a must for us!

  4. Jennifer says:

    It’s so hard being a busy, on the go family but we always try to sit down to dinner together.

  5. Billie says:

    Dinner time is fun for us to catch up or watch a funny show.

  6. I think in this day and age when we are constantly on the go and over scheduled, a family sitdown meal is critical.

  7. We ALWAYS make family dinner time MANDATORY. I cook dinner every night, we sit down and we eat together. The tv is off, no phones at the table and we do not answer the door or phones when we are eating.

  8. i hope we always have family dinners…its so important.

  9. Kathleen says:

    Eating as a family is so so important. There is no better time to really get into your children’s heads and find out what is going on in their lives.

  10. Family dinner is a must at our house at least Monday – Friday 😉

  11. Jenn says:

    We always ate dinner together growing up and do the same now that we have a family of our own.

  12. We sit down to dinner together every night!

  13. Abby says:

    We have a big family dinner once a week with my bother’s fam, and our cousin. It’s so much fun to catch up!

  14. Marcie W. says:

    We have family dinners 4-5x per week or more. It’s the part of the day where we can all wind down, talk about the day, vent if needed, comfort one another and be a unit all over a delicious meal!

  15. I agree completely. We always eat together, but we do have the tendency to let smartphones, books, etc. detract from our ‘quality time’.

  16. I love sitting down for dinner with Goo. She always has interesting conversation about her cousins. LOL!

  17. Mellisa says:

    I try to eat dinner at the table with my family at least 5 days out of the week. This is a time where I can talk with them about school and how their day went.

  18. Family dinners are SO important!

  19. Family dinner is extremely important, and that’s why I do my best to make sure that we eat together.

  20. Colleen says:

    I always thought we would have family dinners when I had my own kids but it hasn’t turned out that way. I wish I could have a do over.

  21. Toni says:

    Great reasons. I agree making time for a family dinner is very important. we don’t get to sit down every night but we do make a point to as often as our schedules of sports allow 🙂

  22. Leilani says:

    I think it’s so important to have family dinners. We’ve made it a point to start now. We all sit at the table together with the TV off and have conversations with our girls. They aren’t in depth since they’re still toddlers, but we think it’s important to encourage conversation.

  23. Family Dinner is SOOO important and something I believe in!