Let me give you ten irrefutable reasons why you as a father need to make sure that you get your family to turn off the TV, computer, mobile phone and eat together as a family.
Of course, there will be some occasions when this is just not possible. For instance, when Australia gets into the grand final of the World Cup Soccer competition. Now, that’s a good reason to have a dinner around the TV. But I’m not sure that there could be many other good reasons because science is now proving what has been known for centuries.
Eating together as a family is good for you, your family and particularly your children.
Our society’s frenetic lifestyle with, in many cases, two parents working hard to bring home the bacon, not to mention the mind-numbing explosion of media and technology, has brought enormous pressures on our ability to sit together, eat together and talk as a family.
The good news is that eating together as a family is actually on the rise. In 2005 the USA reports that 58% of children aged 12 to 17 ate dinner with their families at least 5 times a week, compared to only 47% in 1998 (from a survey by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Columbia University).
In Australia a study by Queensland University in 2005 showed that 75% of families in Brisbane reported eating together at least once a day. So here are the ten reasons to get with the strength.
- Better Nutrition for Children plus Mum and Dad
Numerous studies have overwhelmingly pointed to the fact that families who eat together have better overall nutrition. In turn, this means they also have a lower risk of many diseases and of being overweight or obese.
- Helps Language and Social Skills
When it comes to family events, family dinners were the most important one in contributing to children’s language development. Dr Catherine Snow said, “When there is more than one adult at the table, it tends to make talk richer, topics are established by adult interest and can be extremely valuable opportunities for children to learn.”
- Eating Family Dinners is More Healthful
A Harvard study showed that eating family dinners together most or all days of the week was associated with eating more healthfully. Another University of Minnesota study found that children who ate family meals consumed more fruits, vegetables and fewer snack foods than children who ate separately from their families.
- Reduces Obesity for Children
Young kids who don’t eat regular family meals and do watch lots of TV are more likely to be overweight, a new study has found. And if they gain weight by grade 3 in primary school, they are likely to never lose it. Australian researchers have found teenagers who regularly eat with their families are less likely to be overweight. Regular family meals could reduce snacking and meant parents had a better knowledge of what and how much their children ate. Family meals also made for healthier food and social habits.
- Happier Children
Oxytocins, the chemical phonemes of human bonding, and often associated with happiness, are released in many cases by eating. This may explain why a survey of high achieving teens showed that those who regularly eat meals with their families tend to be happier with their present life and their prospects for the future.
- Better Grades in School
Children who frequently eat meals with their families tend to do better in school as well. A national poll of high school senior students showed higher scholastic scores among students who frequently shared meals with their families. Another study found that frequent family dinners were associated with better school performances with teens 40% more likely to get A’s and B’s.
- Long Term Good Habits
Researchers found eating family meals together during adolescence resulted in adults who ate more fruit, dark-green and orange vegetables and key nutrients, and drank less soft drinks. Frequency of family meals predicted females would eat breakfast as adults. For both sexes, frequency of family meals as adolescents predicted eating dinner more frequently as adults, placing a higher priority on structured meals and a higher priority on social eating. Another study found that girls who ate five or more family meals a week had a much healthier relationship with food in later life.
- Less likely to get involved with Negative Behaviours
Not only have studies found that kids who eat with their families get better grades in school and have a more positive attitude about their future, but they are also less likely to get involved with negative behaviours like drinking, alcohol, taking drugs or smoking. Those who ate dinner with their families only twice a week were more likely to engage in such negative behaviours compare to teens who ate five or more family dinners a week.
- Less Risky Behaviour
Parents who do not want their teens to engage in risky sexual behaviour would make family time a priority, a study suggests. The more times a week that an adolescent reported having dinner with their family, ‘doing something religious’ as a family, or having fun with their family, the less likely he or she was to engage in risky sexual behaviour, the researchers found.
- More Family Time
You don’t need a university professor to tell you that if you put a priority on eating meals with your family you will have more time with them and they will have more time with you. Make sure that you make use of that commodity and make it enjoyable for the whole family. That is why the other nine reasons work.
You guessed it! Turn the TV off, turn off your computer and mobile devices and eat together as a family as much as possible. Your whole family will benefit from the experience in more ways than one.
Yours for eating together more often.
PS: Time is running out if you want to come to the Men’s Leadership Summit, 17 – 19 August at Stanwell Tops near Sydney, as registrations could well be filled soon. Registrations close this coming Friday 10 August as we need to give notice for catering. Watch the promo video here to get the full story on the Summit. Check out all the information at this link or scroll down to News & Info. Make your BOOKING HERE.