The Power of the Dinner Table
If Jeff Bezos, the billionaire Amazon mogul, can find time to eat with his family, we’re thinking there’s really nothing holding us back from doing the same.
We are all making a pact here at Dream Dinners to slow down in 2019. Sure, it’s easy to pack granola bars for breakfast in the car or throw an extra pack of snacks in the kids’ soccer bag. Really, at the end of the day, we just need to carve out some time to reconnect.
There have been myriad studies about the importance of nightly – or as close to nightly as possible – family dinners. Not only are they a way to unwind, relax and share stories, they have some substantial effects on the social and emotional development of children and lasting positive effects on adult relationships, as well.
There are a few studies we enjoy sharing. They are timeless.
More than 1,000 teens were surveyed for the CASAColumbia study in 2012. What the study found is that teens who had dinner with their families at least five times each week were less likely to report levels of high stress. Teens who reported high stress were three times likelier to have used marijuana, twice as likely to have used alcohol and almost twice as likely to have used tobacco.
A 2014 study from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development used data from nearly three-quarters of the world’s countries and found students who do not regularly eat with their parents are significantly more likely to be truant at school. The analysis, as a measurement for absenteeism, was about 15 percent throughout the world on average, but it was nearly 30 percent when children reported they didn’t often share meals with their families.*
A Harvard study found family meals provide an opportunity for members to come together, strengthen ties and build better relationships. Family dinners build a sense of belonging which leads to better self-esteem. When families eat together it helps prevent obesity because food is eaten more slowly with more conversation.
A Stanford Children’s Health study suggests encouraging all members in your family to agree that dinnertime is important, even if it’s only for 10-15 minutes. It helps create opportunities for communication, and to also teach children that asking “How was your day,” is respectful and a good way to practice listening.
* Cody Delistraty, The Importance of Eating Together, The Atlantic, July 18, 2014.