The Importance of Family Meals: Spending Valuable Time

This is the sixth blog in a series about the benefits of eating meals together as a family.

Dr. Anita Gurian of New York University wrote a report about youth development, saying:

  • Staying connected isn’t easy. In many families each member goes off in a different direction: work, school, after-school and social programs, and many other activities. Statistics tell us that Americans spend 40 minutes a week playing with their children, and members of working couples talk to one another an average of only 12 minutes a day.
  • Kids spend more and more time in after school activities—sports, hobbies, clubs, and religious instruction. Fitting in family time is becoming harder and harder. In the past 20 years structured sports time has doubled, family dinners have declined 33% and family vacations have decreased 28%.
  • As parents are working harder and longer and kids’ schedules are more and more crowded, there is a decline in ordinary family togetherness such as talking during mealtime or going to family celebrations.

Are kids being short-changed? Are they missing out on the experiences that family connections provide?

Studies tell us that depression, anxiety and substance abuse among children and teens have significantly increased. Could there be a connection?

The good news is that parents can make a difference. Numerous polls have shown that teens want more, not less, time with their parents and value their parents’ opinions. Studies also show that parental involvement has positive effects on reducing teen tobacco use, depression and eating disorders, while improving academic achievement.

Mealtime is a great opportunity to spend more time with your kids. Makes sense doesn’t it?