A friend recently commented that our family focuses on meals, instead of just getting something to eat. A true statement, I’m a three square kinda gal. I love when my family gathers around the table to share a meal. We’re a good combination, I love to cook, the kids are growing and are eating machines and my husband just loves food. Family meals, at any meal, are my favorite time of day.
Thanks to the internet, I found these family meal facts interesting –
Family dinners are more important than play, story time and other family events in the development of vocabulary of younger children. (Harvard Research, 1996)
Frequent family meals are associated with a lower risk of smoking, drinking and using drugs; with a lower incidence of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts; and with better grades in 11 to 18 year olds. (Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 2004)
Adolescent girls who have frequent family meals, and a positive atmosphere during those meals, are less likely to have eating disorders. (University of Minnesota, 2004)
Kids who eat most often with their parents are 40% more likely to say they get mainly A’s and B’s in school than kids who have two or fewer family dinners a week. (National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University)
Though three to four family meals per week is recommend, we have family meals five to seven nights a week and there have been some grade issues with the teenagers in our house. Dang it! A good meal isn’t the be all end all to good grades? Apparently kids still have to study, want to learn, pay attention and do their homework.
I am convinced the boys have bottomless pits for stomachs, my husband claims their before bedtime snacks are a growing boy thing. My husband will reminisce about the amount of food he remembers eating while growing up – whole roast chicken or a whole pizza, eat boxes of cereal and gallons of milk, and on and on. Not an eating disorder but enormous amounts of food….times 3.
Our youngest happens to be the chattiest of the bunch. I wonder if the correlation between vocabulary development and family dinner also has anything to do with birth order. We had a full table by the time he joined the party!
Our family meals are always fun and happy. That’s a bold-faced lie. We are a family with lots of moods and personalities and likes and dislikes with places to be and people to see. Sometimes are meals are rushed, fast and furious. Sometimes somebody is mad at someone or just mad at the world. We all have our favorite foods and foods we would rather not eat. Schedules make it tough, but meal planning helps. Manners are learned at our table. No TV, no phones, no games, just an opportunity to sit down and eat, talk and connect.
We try. We gather. We talk. We eat. We clean up together. Our ritual works for us. Our tradition, our practice, of eating meals together is engrained in who we are as a family.
In honor of National Bacon Day, we had BLTA’s (A for Avocado) for dinner tonight. Not fancy, but the homegrown tomatoes were delicious (except the boys wouldn’t know, they don’t like tomatoes).