How Family Dinners Can Save the World
In the age of handheld devices, television, long workdays, and extracurricular activities, for many families, family dinners are a thing of the past. A quick flip through the channels shows innumerable fast food commercials and plenty of quick serve, on the go meals. But what could this really mean for the future of our kids and families? Nothing good, that’s for sure.
The importance of family dinners is manifold, positively affecting eating habits, stress levels, and family bonding. Though they can seem daunting for a family that has gotten out of the habit, their pros appear to definitely outweigh the cons, and family dinners can be a great way to refresh family life.
Statistically speaking, families who gather for a family dinner tend to eat healthier meals. Soda is replaced by milk and water, fried foods by fruits and vegetables, and trans fatty foods by lean proteins. Though all of this is dependent on the chosen meal, it seems that most families tend to cook healthier for family dinners than for food eaten on the go. Since childhood obesity has become a major problem for many Americans, healthier meals could be a game changer. Currently, one in five children from six to nineteen are overweight, putting them at greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure later in life. Studies show that kids who eat family dinners frequently are less likely to be overweight, and therefore less likely to run into obesity related health problems later in life.
With food, comes conversation, and with conversation comes increased family bonding. Family dinner conversation is another reason that family dinners are making a positive impact on families across the country. Because families are often very busy between work, school, and outside activities, kids are less able to talk to their parents. However, for families who can make time for family dinners, conversation is more frequent and the results are incredible. Parents are more likely to hear about serious issues and more likely to gain the trust of their children in homes where family dinner conversation is frequent, resulting in endless benefits. Studies show that kids who eat family dinners are more likely to stay away from cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol, that they get better grades, and that they are more likely to feel that their parents are proud of them. Overall, families who eat together at the dinner table statistically feel less tension and stress at home.
For many families, restarting the family dinner tradition isn’t that simple. They’ve gotten so out of the habit, that they fear a mutiny should they try to reinstitute family dinners. In these cases, fun family dinners, perhaps involving family dinner table games can be pulled off with a little creativity.
Ask interesting questions of each person at the table. Which celebrity would you invite to dinner and why? If you could be any book character, who would you choose and why? What’s your dream vacation spot?
Have each person tell the table about his or her day, but make one letter off limits. This one stretches vocabulary and encourages thinking skills!
There are plenty of options, but the most important factor is that it gets your family talking, laughing, and bonding. Family dinners are too important to die out, and it’s up to you to save them!