7 Important reasons to eat dinner as a family

By | February 6, 2015 | Motherhood & Family

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7 Important reasons to eat dinner as a family | The Momiverse |Article by Harry H. Harrison, Jr.

Every new parent is told over and over again to eat dinner together as a family, but rarely do parents understand the importance of this activity. Some young parents believe this is just one more piece of fiction handed down from their parents’ generation.

Parents are busy today and dinner as a family at the same time every night seems impossible at times. Here are seven reasons why you must eat dinner as a family:

1.   Increase cognitive development

Research by Dr. Almudena Sevilla of the School of Business and Management at the University of London and Cristina Borra of the University of Seville suggests the more time we spend with our children, the better our children’s cognitive development. In fact, a 2012 study by social scientists at the University of Chile looking at the time diaries of mothers and children showed one additional hour of maternal time per week can move a child as many as five positions higher in a class of 30. Take away eating together as a family and you risk the cognitive development of your child.

2.   Establish nutritional health

Several years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics shared the results of a study suggesting:

The frequency of shared family meals is significantly related to nutritional health in children and adolescents. Children and adolescents who share family meals three or more times per week are more likely to be in a normal weight range and have healthier dietary and eating patterns than those who share fewer than three family meals together. In addition, they are less likely to engage in disordered eating.

3.   Live a healthy life

Families who eat dinner together tend to eat healthier meals. If you cook dinner at home, your meal will generally include more fruits, vegetables, and less soda. Your kids, once introduced to healthy meals and educated about healthy eating, will soon seek to learn more about nutrition and organic eating. Parents tend to cook less fried foods – probably because it’s a pain to make – but also because they are keeping their children’s health in mind.

4.   Educate early for future success

Family meals can lay the groundwork for a child’s future. I know a young dentist who spent 18 years listening to his father talk about his advertising agency at dinnertime. Five years after he graduated from dental school he has eight dental practices, because of the marketing skills he learned over nightly meals from his father.

5.   Improve vocabulary and comprehension

Listening to their parents discuss real world issues every night enables a child’s vocabulary to jump leaps and bounds. When and where else will they learn words like civil rights, advocacy, democracy, and justice, before they are five years old? This will dramatically impact a child’s ability to read when they are young and take tests – whether in school or for college entrance exams.

6.   Promote family bonding and trust

Children learn how to express their opinions in a safe place at family dinners. When parents listen to their child’s account of what happened that day, you teach your child that what they have to say is important. They also learn how to listen without interrupting. You’ll be surprised at how even the youngest child can participate in a conversation.

7.   Raise a moral child

Family dinners allow you to pass along your morals and values to your children in an non-threatening and uncritical way. Research shows that parents who take the time to eat dinner with their kids at least five days a week are more likely to raise kids who understand and respect boundaries. Research has demonstrated the amount of time parents and kids eat together has a direct correlation to reduced high-risk behaviors. When you wave goodbye to your kids in the morning, you might be waving goodbye to their future. You may have no idea what’s really going on in their lives until a principal or police officer tells you.

Serve a home-cooked meal to your family on most nights and make sure everyone in the family shows up for dinner. This sacred family time will make it easier for your kids to share what’s happening in their lives and it will eliminate so many parenting problems down the road.

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Harry H. Harrison, Jr.

Harry is a New York Times best selling parenting author with over 3.5 million books in print. He is the author of numerous books including Fearless Parenting: Raising a Child to Face the Adult World. He has been interviewed on over 25 television programs and featured in over 75 local and national radio stations including NPR. His books are available in over thirty-five countries throughout Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Norway, South America, China, Saudi Arabia and in the Far East. For more information visit FearlessParenting.com.

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