Introduction

Have you ever wondered why your child is not succeeding academically, socially, and health-wise? Well, the answer is simple and might be a way to fulfill your family’s needs. Your child needs you! Having meals and conversations at the dinner table at least five times a week could possibly transform and alter your child’s grades, social skills, and health. Benefits of family meals have been tested by professors and colleges. Studies show that family meals can have many positive impacts on a child’s development; kids and teens are less likely to smoke, do drugs, fail in school, and become unhealthy or obese. Parent involvement is crucial when it comes to a child’s life. If you take the necessary steps you and your child will be one step closer to a stress-free life.

Little Effort, Big Impact
Refuters suggest that family meals require too much time and effort–time that some families don’t have. According to Anita Gurian, PhD, staying connected isn’t easy. In her article “Family Meals Matter- Staying Together,” she states “…in many families each member goes off in a different direction: work, school, after-school and social programs, and many other activities.” This quote may be true; however, families can always find a time to bond. Whether it be a fifteen-minute dinner every night or a five-minute conversation at the dinner table every night. In this amount of time families can form strong bonds that can last forever.  In addition to busy schedules, other activities may be getting in the way. In the past twenty years as structured sports time has doubled family dinners have declined 33% (Gurian). This piece of evidence is true; however, sports cannot become a priority over family meals. Sports and other extra-curricular activities may be important, but grades, social skills and academics are more important. Family meals lead to these benefits. Sacrifice a little part of the day to cook up a meal and have a thoughtful conversation with your family. If this doesn’t happen, you are doing your kids a great disservice. Time must be made for family meals because it is essential to child development.

Adolescents Need a Connection 
Connections between parents and their children can have a large impact.  Not only does forming relationships help understanding between a parent and a child, it provides advantages for the child, advantages including better health and success in academics.  A study done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) shows a positive relationship between family meals and grades. An article by Purdue University quotes, “Research by CASA has a found a striking relationship between frequency of family meals and grades. In 2003, the percent of teens who got A’s was 20% of those who ate with their families 5 or more times per week compared to only 12% of those who ate with their families 2 or less times per week.” The research done shows the true importance of having mealtime with family. An 8% difference in the numbers of teens achieving their goals in school is significant; imagine what could happen if we all make a change for the better. Children and teens can thrive academically by spending quality time with their families.

In addition, a child’s or teen’s health can also improve by having a dinner with family each night. Health benefits include a lesser chance of smoking, drug abuse, and obesity rates. Parents can cook healthy meals that can prevent health issues like obesity. In addition, children are more likely to eat healthier foods such as vegetables, fruits, and grains. By cooking a healthy meal for your family each night, you are making sure your child is less likely to have weight control problems and is one-step closer to a healthier lifestyle.

More teens than children are exposed to drugs and alcohol at a young age. Teens can be putting their health and safety at risk. Studies have shown that parent involvement has positive effects on influencing adolescent tobacco use, depression, eating disorders, academic achievement, and other problems (Gurian). This evidence proves that if the amount of family meals increases each week, certain dangerous adolescent activities can be avoided.

Dinnertime meals and and discussions supply children and teens with much needed support for success as they grow older. Family meals each night provide positive impacts. As children and teens develop, certain aspects of their lives may change, such as health concerns and academic status. You have such a simple way to make a connection with your family and provide health benefits right at your fingertips. So, what are your family plans tonight?

References
“About Our Kids | AboutOurKids.org.” About Our Kids | AboutOurKids.org. Anita Gurian, PhD, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.
J. Lyttle, and E. Baugh. “The Importance of Family Dinners.” N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.
“Family Meals Spell S-U-C-C-E-S-S.” Purdue University Center for Families, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.