The Benefits of eating Dinner at the Table

By 7:00:00 AM



 A couple years ago, at a women conference I go every year my pastor's wife spoke about the benefit of eating dinner at the table as a family.

It was a life changing lesson. I became so interested I started to read up on it. I have two little girls I need all the help I can get!
In my research blog hopping I found some pretty interesting facts.

A random nationwide survey by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found a recent rise in the number of children ages 12 to 17 who said they ate dinner with their families at least five times a week, to 58 percent last year from 47 percent in 1998.
“There’s definitely an awareness that was not there a few years ago,” said Miriam Weinstein, author of “The Surprising Power of Family Meals: How Eating Together Makes Us Smarter, Stronger, Healthier, and Happier"

Families that do have dinner together often are families whose parents are fully engaged with their kids.
Social scientists have been praising the benefits of family dinners for years. A number of studies show that children who eat dinner with their families regularly are less likely to get involved with drugs and alcohol than those who do not. They also tend to get better grades, exhibit less stress and eat better.

The study by the Columbia center showed that compared with teenagers who have five or more family dinners a week, those who have two or less are three times as likely to try marijuana, two and half times as likely to smoke cigarettes and one and half times as likely to try alcohol.


Growing up we always eat dinner together as a family, not necessarily at the table but we would all eat at the same time. It was fun, for some of us, I said some of us because one of the perks or downside of this togetherness we were all in each others business. When it was your bizwack being laid out it may not be all that fun for you but still a good laugh.

I never forget the first time a boy wrote me a love letter, I tried to hide because I was embarrassed! not sure why? but I was.
Unfortunately one of my cousins found it and right in the middle of dinner with everybody there, he step on a chair and start reading it. Everybody was going oooh and aaahh! I remember being so mad I took it out of the poor little boy who wrote me and told him it was his fault! part of it sucks but it did create a sense of accountability toward each other. If anyone was thinking about doing something naughty you’d think twice about it cause you already know its going to be dinner talk subject.

It also teach us teamwork, if we’d learn that one of us is in trouble we would all pitch in. It is like that in my family till today. We were at my sister' in New york over the summer boy I gotta say it has not change!
So I got to say I kinda of agree with this study, dinner time is happy time, people talk, kids talk, it's a great time to bond, share and know what is going on in your kids life.

When you in the know, you are better equipped to guide and assist them.
I say YAY for family dinners!
Although sitting at the table as a FAMILY can be a daunting task with my hectic schedule, we still manage to do a few times a time weeks.

What’s your family dinners memories? do you think eating dinner or not with your family make you a better person today (or not)? SHARE!

Do you eat dinner with your family often? how do you manage with the busy-ness of life?

PS: The statistics of the research was published in a NY times article

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42 comments

  1. We always sit down to dinner and even the cats stay put too. Dinner time is a good catch up time for family and for visitors if you have them. We look on washing up as ateam bonding exercise LOL!

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    1. This is awesome! and that's when they learn viable social skills too.

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  2. We eat all three meals together and it is by far one of the biggest blessings in our lives. Thanks for the post!

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  3. Dinner is an important family event in our house. It wasn't always this way but I can tell you that it has strengthened our family to do so & discuss life over dinner.

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    1. Yes! My kids learn to pray at the table, they learn the meaning of "NO" at the table. Now that they are getting a bit older they are more open to share about their days during dinner time.

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  4. I know this sounds terrible, but my children practically never eat what we eat. I'm not sure if it's their age or what. They would honestly starve themselves if I chose to not make them something different. Dinner time is always a struggle here for that reason.

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    1. I know that struggle, we go thru it too but we try not to make it too much about the food but more about being together. I have one kid who will only eat her meat, the other would be content on a piece of bread. It is indeed a challenge, but we still try to make the best of the time we have together. Hope it get better :-)

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  5. Every night, the three of us have dinner together. Our son is almost 15 and some nights it takes both hubby and I to drag any type of conversation out of him and some nights, we both look at him and wonder if he'll ever stop talking LOL

    I think it's vital that we continue this - he is involved with school stuff and church things but we always eat together beforehand or afterwards. We need to stay connected.

    Also, the television is downstairs and we don't answer the phone nor do we even look at our cell phones during meals. We have to focus on ourselves.

    Blessings!

    Patty

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  6. I, too, believe in eating dinner together as a family. I believe that is where you forge the strong bonds. As a child, we usually all ate together at the table.

    Rachel recently wrote Using the Oreo Cookie to Get Clients

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  7. We always used to try and sit down at the dinner table to eat whenever possible, so we could talk about our day and try to include our 3 year old in the conversation. However, when my husband moved out 3 months ago I'm ashamed to say I fell out of the habit. One of my goals is to try and get back to the table so she can have some sense of normality.

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  8. We try to eat together as much as possible. This way I can also work on encouraging my kids to try new foods. Another really great discovery in our house is getting our children to help us prepare the meals. My daughter loves playing kitchen chef and cooking, but I am also teaching my 9yo to help place things in the oven and how to operate the microwave. Getting conversation out of him is almost like pulling teeth and he is not even a tween yet!

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  9. We always sit down for dinner and discuss our day. It was the same in our families when my husband and I were growing up. I didn't even know that it's possible to eat separately. Wow! It would be pretty expensive to heat up the dinner for every separate family member. I absolutely agree with the study. Family dinner is very important.

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  10. Although we do not always sit at our table, we do sit down and eat as a family each night. I believe that it is such an important part of the family dynamic no matter how busy we all are.

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  11. When I was growing up, we always ate together as a family. My parents had a very turbulent relationship, but dinner was always a time that we would come together as a family. Now as a mother of two myself, I am very proud to make my family a home cooked meal most nights and sit around the dinner table and catch up on one another's day. As my young children continue to grow, I hope that my husband and I will continue to enforce family dinner time and strengthen the bond between the members of our family.

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  12. I try to do this with my boys and husband. Normally he's walking in the door as we are all sitting down to eat and it feels rushed. More often than not it's not always a fancy meal but it's still family time and I think it is important. The biggest thing is that I rely on the t.v. to distract my littles and I need to learn to just turn it off!!!! Thank you for sharing because as the boys get older they will learn the importance of this time.

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  13. We eat together as a family, but out table is taken up by our giant microwave so we've taken to eating in the living room. I wish we could have the big dining room table that I grew up with, but it's not possible until we move. I hope that the togetherness is what counts, and not necessarily the table.

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  14. We always ate together as a family growing up and I really think it helped my relationship with all my brothers and sisters. We had a big family (there were nine of us) so it was a good time to laugh, talk, argue, tease, and be a family. To this day, I'm still super close with all of my siblings.

    I want that for my kids, so we eat together all the time too. Occasionally we have a kid not home but we go ahead and eat together anyway. It's a good time to catch up with my kids and find out what's on their minds.

    The other day I could tell there was something wrong with one of my sons. I probably wouldn't have known since my teenagers like to hide in their rooms until dinner time. But when he came to the table, I could see and it allowed us to open a conversation after dinner that helped him get a load of stuff off his mind and heart. I'm really grateful for that dinner and being able to have that time with my kids and husband.

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  15. My mom has always been a big pusher of eating meals together as a family. A habit I hope to instill with my family.

    I taught preschool for two years, and I could always tell what kids had established the habit of sitting down at meals or somewhere else. Definitely good to learn to sit at one place for a little while.

    I really like the other reasons you give, too!

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  16. Hi Lyne, it's so true, eating together as a family has many benefits! Yes, my family often ate together at the table, most every week night for dinner and my mom always liked to make a special dinner on Sundays. We would often bar-b-que in the summer. Those were fun times being outside in the yard as a family. My brothers and I still close and we're all in our fifties now. Thanks for sharing your stories. I remember getting teased by my older brother and his friend for a love letter I mailed to the friends younger brother. Yep, he intercepted my mail and I've never lived that one down!

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  17. Family dinners are very important to me. Though my husband can rarely join us due to his work schedule, we do have them on the weekends. Even if that means having dinner early. I feel that it's a time for us to all bond and enjoy each others company and converse together. As I was growing up, my family never had family dinners and I feel that's why we are not a close family as others. I have learned from my parent's mistakes, in more way than one. Thanks for sharing this.

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  18. Family dinners are very important to me. Though my husband can rarely join us due to his work schedule, we do have them on the weekends. Even if that means having dinner early. I feel that it's a time for us to all bond and enjoy each others company and converse together. As I was growing up, my family never had family dinners and I feel that's why we are not a close family as others. I have learned from my parent's mistakes, in more way than one. Thanks for sharing this.

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  19. My family of 6 eats dinner together almost every night. It can be hard but it not only makes it easier with 4 small children but it also gives us a time to talk and to practice working together. One way we encourage this to happen is by making a home made dinner every night. It's much harder to eat separatly when dinner is ready at one time for everyone rather then when everyone is grabbing something from the fridge or a restaurant. It's a little more work for me as mom but it's worth it!

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  20. We pretty much always eat dinner together. I love it. I wouldn't want it any other way. I'm very lucky to have my husband home every evening so that it's possible. I also think it sets good habits for our child. My husband is not used to having family dinner time so he still thinks it's a little weird. But a nice weird.

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  21. Family dinners provide togetherness. I'm all for them also. My family had family dinners when I was growing up. My dad passed away when I was younger so I didn't really appreciate family dinners back then (because I was too young) but I cherish them today.
    Divachyk @Relaxed Thairapy

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  22. We eat meals together on a regular basis. It's one of the perks for homeschooling and having a husband working from home. We try to plan family nights around those meals with movies or games.

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  23. We didn't eat dinner much together, as kids, mainly because my mom's work schedule conflicted with dinner time, and my dad wasn't much into setting routines like everyone having to sit at the table at the same time. That always made me a little sad - but it was something I just got used to. Meeting friends and becoming part of friends' families, I realized that many (most) families out there eat together, and I knew that is what I wanted to do when I had a family of my own. My upbringing was great, no complaints - but one of the things I wish was different was that we never really ate together. Great post! So true!

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  24. When I was a child, I don't recall having to sit together as a family for dinner. It wasn't because we weren't a tight knit family - but because my mom's work coincided with dinner time, and my dad just didn't enforce my sibling and I to sit together - especially since there was such an age gap (we were lucky to be home at the same time). I always yearned for it though - and I was lucky to have friends and relationships that opened their doors to me so that I could experience the family tradition of eating together. Now I make sure we do that together - with my own family. My parents were amazing - I have no complaints - but I do wish circumstances were different with regards to eating together as a family.

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  25. Great topic! I have read articles and listened to workshops at conferences on the importance of gathering at the table to fellowship and feast on the one common need in our lives.. FOOD. :) As a child we often at dinner together but rarely at the table. It was usually sitting in front of a TV. I remember as a teenager requesting that we all sit at a table. We did this till, sporadically, till I got married and left the house. Now that I a have a family, dinner on the table is consistently regarded as necessary. With teenagers it seems one of them may be missing dinner one or two nights of the week, and we immediately miss their presence... I understand the importance of the Family Meal even more now.

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  26. Sitting down at the table as a family is such a great way to learn what is going on in the lives of your family. It can build that family bond and help the kids feel their is an interest in their lives. Great way to build a strong family relationship!

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  27. Growing up, we had to eat dinner as a family. Now that I have my own family, we do the same. My in laws eat "together" most of the time, but it's in the living room with TV trays and the television on - not my thing. It's hard to communicate and share when you're competing with a television. Takes away the entire experience.

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  28. As a child we had family dinners. I remember it as being the best time of the day because it was when we were all together talking and sharing our days. Today, as a mother of 3, I try to have family dinners almost every night. It is great for my kids who like to share what they did all day. I say YAY for family dinners too :-)

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  29. this is so true! I did this when growing up, and we always sat together, and i bleibe it made me stronger with my family. now, that I have a kiddo, I want her to learn the same values about eating dinner together. great post mama!

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  30. We ate dinner at the table every night when I was growing up. We got a chance to talk about our days and the world around us. It wouldn't have happened if we were in the living room and television was at the center -- or instead of conversation.

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  31. My husband is currently going through evening classes 5 nights a week. So we don't usually see him at supper. But he has 3-day weekends. This has made me want to put more effort into family meals! I've really been feeling the need to engage our kids more - they're 3, 4, & 5 (and a newborn). They're old enough to interact - and need the relationships and interaction.

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  32. We always have dinner together, even though it is just the two of us. If one of us works late, the other one usually waits for them. Now, we don't sit at a table but we do spend time talking about our day. Sometimes with a Family Guy or two mixed in =) I think it is particularly important for kids, it is part of making a stable environment for them. I used to think it was weird, when I went to a friends house and they didn't have dinner together. Or I babysat for a family that fed the kids first, then they ate dinner after they went to bed. It seemed that they missed some of the good moments by not sitting down together.

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  33. This is a wonderful post. I miss that togetherness of Family Dinners but I will definitely be eating dinner with my kids when I have them. That's so wrong what your cousin did. LOL.

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  34. I have made eating as a family a priority in our family. My husband is a farmer and in the spring and summer it can be kind of crazy trying to make it work but we do. We have 5 kids and we all cram around our table and share a meal. Is it perfect every night, no! Sometimes the kids fight, sometimes someone spills something and mom gets mad and loses her cool! However, I grew up eating with my parents around the table with no tv or electronics and that has always been a tradition they instilled in me that I thought was very important! Great post! Keep trying with your girls, it doesn't have to be perfect! :)

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  35. Growing up, I ate dinner with my family often. It became somewhat sporadic now and again, and it wasn’t really all that great. My mom was (is) somewhat psychotic, so having dinner with her sometimes scared the crap out of me. I kind of can’t really comment on the statistic that eating dinner with family is great, especially if a primary family member is not pleasant to be around.

    When I eat dinner now, it only consists of my husband. He’s much more balanced, and eating dinner with him is wonderful. We talk about our day, discuss things that we want to do during the coming weekend, and whatever else may be a good subject. Great post!

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  36. It truly is such an important thing! I remember growing up we ate at the dinner table almost every night. We always shared about our days and just discussed whatever was on our mind. I think it was the best bonding time our family had :)

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  37. Love your header and blog design! I also enjoyed reading your post. Having dinner as a family has always been a fantasy to me, like getting married and having a white picket fence. May sound silly but I am looking forward to putting this into effect at least once per week to. Reconnect and talk about the week. I love the idea!

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  38. It's great that you sit down and eat together as a family! I believe that's so important! Growing up, we at dinner together. It's a good time to come together and share what had been going on during the day. Enjoy the times around the dinner table before your kids all grow up!

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