The Other Benefits of Eating Dinner Together as a Family

From Stacey Seybold Hiller, M.S.,CCC-SLP, Pediatric Speech Language Pathologist and 0wner, Dream Dinners of Indianapolis, IN

Over the years, there has been extensive research completed on the benefits of families eating together.  For example, Research by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA)* at Columbia University consistently finds that the more often children eat dinner with their family, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs.  Specifically, teens who ate dinner with their families 5 nights a week were:

  • 42% less likely to drink alcohol
  • 59% less likely to smoke cigarettes
  • 66% less likely to try marijuana.

Mom helping with homework and cookingThose teens that ate dinner with their parents less than 3 times a week were much more likely to be involved in drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana.  But that is only the tip of the family meal iceberg. That daily meal together benefits us in other ways, too.  The teens who ate with their families regularly also reported:

  • higher grades in school
  • stronger friendships, and
  • better relationships with their parents.

A earlier study at Harvard found that dinner time was the single most important event in a family that contributes to [younger] children’s language development.  Miriam Weinstein, a filmmaker and a journalist, wrote a book The Surprising Power of Family Meals (Steer Forth Press, 2005).  She collected a significant body of research explaining the vital importance of the family meal.

So it looks like we, as a society may need to worry a bit less about “what’s for dinner?” and a bit more about how we can enjoy our meal times TOGETHER.

Stacey Seybold Hiller has practiced pediatric speech pathology for more than 18 years.  Both she and her husband felt they were ready for a career change, so they opened Dream Dinners in Indianapolis with a partner.  Now she can further her passion for healthy family meals around the table at home!

Family Day is September 28th.  Visit for more information.