Celebrate Family Meals Month
The month of September can be a hectic time for families with school beginning and schedules changing. Juggling the demands of a busy, modern day life can often leave the question, “What’s for dinner?” pushed to the wayside. That's why the month of September is celebrated as Family Meals Month. This month is an excellent time to commit to sharing at least one more family meal at home each week as kids are going back to school and falling into a new routine.
Family meals are not only important for the family dynamic, but they make a huge impact on the development of a child. Studies show that kids who eat dinner with their parents perform better in school, consume more healthy nutrients, and have a lower chance of participating in high risk behaviors.
Good for the Brain
Shared meals with the family are an excellent time for children to discuss what they learned in school and reinforce their knowledge. Researchers have found that for young children, dinnertime conversation boosts vocabulary even more than being read aloud to (Washington Post.) Older children also experience benefits from family meals. Research found that adolescents who ate family meals five to seven times a week were twice as likely to get A’s in school as those who ate dinner with their families fewer than two times a week (Washington Post.) Overall, sharing that experience as a family builds self-esteem and confidence which positively impacts every facet of childhood.
Good for the Body
Family meals are often more nutritious. Studies show that families who eat together are twice as likely to eat their five servings of fruits and vegetables, compared to families who don’t eat together (FCC.) Shared meals also help prevent obesity, as people tend to eat less during family meals because they eat more slowly and talk more. Lastly, kids who eat family meals tend to become less picky eaters and tend to eat a wider variety of foods.
Good for the Soul
Family dinners have been found to be a more powerful deterrent against high-risk teen behaviors than church attendance or good grades (Washington Post.) Studies show that having regular family dinners lowers the change of high-risk teenage behaviors, such as smoking, violence, school problems, and more. Eating more meals with your children, whether they be breakfast, lunch, or dinner, will only strengthen your family connection and heighten their self-esteem. Having that daily meal-time connection can allow your children a time to openly communicate and share a positive experience. It also gives parents the opportunity to be role models and set an example of polite table manners.
Tips for Eating More Meals Together
It’s important for families to make shared meals a priority in their household for individual growth and family connection. Start with small steps by adding one extra family meal a week. Also, make the preparation of the family meal a shared experience. Get your kids involved with the menu planning, preparation, and cleaning up to teach them valuable life skills and build their confidence. Plus, it gives busy parents some extra hands! Lastly, remember to focus on the importance of being together as a family rather than making an elaborate meal. Your children will remember the memories and laughs that you made together rather than what was on the menu.