Why Family Dinners are Important

Posted on: January 23rd, 2012 by Kay Swatkowski

Today the ringing of the telephone takes precedence over everything. It reaches a point of terrorism, particularly at dinnertime.

- unknown

A meal is about civilizing children. It’s about teaching them to be a member of their culture.

– Robin Fox

My grandmother knew how to cook a pot roast! No one made mashed potatoes better than she did. She would send us to the little garden to pick cucumbers  and then would dress them with her own special sweet and sour dressing.  Those were memorable meals.

I can smell the pot roast even now.

While the food was wonderful, it is the laughter and conversation that made a difference in my life.

Family meals are important.

Researchers at the National Center for Additions and Substance Abuse at Columbia University have studied the relationship between family dinners and alcohol and drug use in adolescents.

  • Adolescents who rarely eat with family report using tobacco and alcohol twice as often as teens who eat dinner with their families.
  • Adolescents who don’t eat with their family are 1 1/2 times move likely to use marijuana.
  • Adolescents who don’t eat with family are 1 1/2 times more likely to have friends involved in substance abuse.

Those are amazing and frightening statistics.

Sports, music lessons, tutoring sessions all make scheduling family dinners more challenging all the time. Whatever we can do to encourage family meals will be helpful to our children and grandchildren. It isn’t about the food we prepare. It is about the conversations we share and the memories we create.

An article on the Mayo Clinic website gives this helpful tip about conversation at family mealtimes. “Make it enjoyable. Leave the serious discussions for another time. Family meals are for nourishment, comfort, and support.”

What memories do you have of family meals?

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2 Responses

  1. Lydia Harris says:

    I love family meal times. Growing up, our large family always ate dinner together. Mom cooked delicious meals with homegrown, homemade foods. Mealtimes were important times, especially Sunday dinners with pot roast or baked chicken.

    When I married and had a family, I also made eating together a priority, cooking homey favorites like stew and dumplings. Now I enjoy having the kids and grandkids join around our table for holidays and birthday celebrations. To make it fun, I sometimes plan discussion starters or games where we make up a story with each person adding another part to the tale as we go around the table. Everyone participates and we laugh and enjoy being together.

    Meals and memories go together like a grandmother and grandchild.

    Grandma Tea (www.PreparingMyHeart.net)

    • Lydia, it sounds as if meal time has been a wonderful part of your life. I really like the idea of your discussion starters. Do you have one you could share? “Meals and memories go together like a grandmother and grandchild.” Wonderful thought!

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