Interesting Statistics on Family Dinners

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March 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Family

Do you think that sitting down and having a family dinner together is important? Here are some facts that may be of interest:

The average parent spends 38.5 minutes per week in meaningful conversation with their children. (A.C. Nielsen Co.)

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)

Martha Farrell Erickson from the Children, Youth and Family Consortium at the University of Minnesota offers the following tips:

Make dinner a special family time. Turn off the TV, take the phone off the hook, dim the lights, light candles, and have a relaxing time together. Or, if you prefer, engage young children in a creative theme dinner like a picnic on the living room floor. Use your imagination and choose the approach that suits your family best.

Focus on positives. Don’t use mealtime as a time to criticize, complain, or argue. Treat each other with respect and affection. Let the little things ride; who cares if junior is wiggly at the table or little sis dribbles milk? Save the discussions of homework and messy bedrooms for another time.

Decide together how you can make high-quality family time a habit. Are there one or two days a week that you all can commit to for a fun family dinner? What do you need to clear from your schedule to make that happen? And when dinnertime doesn’t work, how about a snack and a family boardgame at bedtime?

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