The Shocking Truth About Eating Dinner as a Family
One evening as I finished cooking dinner, my eight- year- old said: “mom, I have the table set, is the food ready?”. Dinner at our house is not anything fancy nor is it elaborate, but after doing some reading, I found out how beneficial it can be for the children. However, with my husband working nights as a nurse, I am now trying to make sure we can eat dinner together at least a couple times per week. Mealtime for parents and their children has been found to have tremendous benefits for kids; emotional as well as physical. One thing about me, is I like to be inclusive and I want to make it clear that this also applies to single parents as well.So why you should have family dinners?
Elementary aged children and toddlers learn a lot from family meal time. So much that their vocabulary can grow exponentially because their parents and siblings are using unique words that they do not hear in story books or at school. The research shows that children this age were found to have learned more than a thousand words, a major contrast to one hundred and forty three words that they would learn from being read aloud to. Children who have a big vocabulary are able to begin reading at a younger age, and a bit easier.
Food prepared at home automatically means less fast food and soda, so children are able to eat more fruits and vegetables, plus an overall variety of nutrients. Consuming fewer fried foods and soft drinks is a great way to reduce the intake of sugar- ultimately lowering the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Older children have been found to score higher on achievement tests, simply by having dinner with their parents at home, higher scores compared to being involved in doing art, sports or homework assignments. Adolescents who have these meals at least twice a week are two times as likely to get A’s in school.
Teens are also less likely to engage in high-risk behavior, such as drinking, smoking, eating disorders and sexual activity. Even more than regular church attendance and good grades. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that it’s probably one of the only times in a day that parents and children have a positive interaction and share in conversation.
Not eating as many fast food restaurant meals not only keeps obesity rates down for children, but it was also found that young adults who ate dinner as a family when they were younger are more likely to eat healthy foods once they live on their own.
Time with Parents
The connections between family mealtime and the reduction of symptoms in medical disorders (found through research) in my opinion are amazing. Asthma, being one of them, was due to the fact that the child’s anxiety will be lower and it provides another opportunity for the parents to ask if they are taking the medication as prescribed. The type of atmosphere parents create surrounding the dinner table is what will ultimately make or break this potential relationship builder. Rather than using an authoritarian style to get them to finish everything on their plate, try to create a loving and encouraging environment.
If you aren’t able to have one on one quality time with your children for significant amounts of time, I would highly recommend sharing a meal, I know we will certainly try to do that more often at our house.