The Importance of Family Meals: Developmental Assets

African American family enjoying a meal together.This is the fourth blog in a series exploring the benefits of eating meals together as a family.

A report from the University of Florida says that one of the real benefits of family meals is the opportunity for conversation, and is even associated with better nutritional quality. The report also reveals that eating together as a family is surprisingly associated with creating developmental assets for the family members and leads to fewer risky behaviors.

Simply put, eating together as a family could be a part of an effective strategy for preventing dangerous behaviors among youth. Take a look:

Internal assets such as having a positive outlook on personal future and a positive identity are linked to the frequency of family dinners. High-risk behaviors, such as smoking, are less frequent among families who eat meals together more frequently. Concerning boundaries and parental expectations, families who have regular family dinners are more likely to understand, acknowledge, and follow boundaries than those who do not eat dinner together. Self-esteem, motivation, and a decrease in high-risk behaviors are all related to the amount of time spent with family, especially during family dinners.

They make these suggestions:

  1. Have family dinners at least four to five times a week.
  2. Turn off TV, radio, MP3 players, and the like during dinner.
  3. Enjoy positive conversation during the meal.
  4. Spend at least an hour eating dinner, conversing, and cleaning up together.

Follow us further as we describe more benefits to eating meals together as a family in this series of blog posts.