4    Oct 20121 comment

Family: Sharing family meals?

Is it best for families to eat together? We've always read that it's best for parents and children to share at least the evening meal together and discuss the day's happenings.

However, today that sometimes seems difficult with everyone's busy schedules. Do you think that such social meals make a difference for children’s achievements and behavior?

Researchers at Boston University’s College of Arts & Science have discovered that the benefits may not be as strong as we once thought. A new study co-authored by Boston University School of Social Work Assistant Professor Daniel P. Miller reveals:

Despite popular wisdom and findings from much previous research that suggests the beneficial impact of family mealtime, a rigorous analysis of 21,400 children, ages five to 15, brings a new argument to the table: When researchers controlled for a host of confounding factors, they didn’t find any relationship between family meals and child academic outcomes or behavior.

Says Miller, of the study that appeared in Child Development journal:

“We find no relationship between family breakfasts or family dinners and any child outcomes – reading, math and science scores, or behavior problems,” says Miller.

“That didn’t change according to the age of the kids or even how we measured family meals: whether it was three meals a week, five meals a week or nine meals a week didn’t seem to matter.”

The researchers at Columbia University and New York University were surprised to find the effects of family meals on test scores and behavioral problems were either small or “effectively zero.” Miller said, however, they would never suggest that families not eat together because the table is an important place or parents and children to interact.

How important were shared family meals when you were growing up? Were certain traditions observed at these meals? If you are a parent, do you believe that family meal times are important?

Share your comments below.

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  1. Have a Sunday dinner together benefit parents, grand parents and children. It gives a sense of belonging, security and stability. Eating a meal alone is very anilieting.
    My grown up children remember how much they enjoyed eating together while talking about their school work, weekly events and making future plans. All of them succeed in school and in life.
    They especially liked when their cousins were invited over for dinner. They would have a fun by taking meat balls from eachothers's plates. By the way, they still do!
    They supported each others with school work and friends' issues.
    I don't think this is possible by having a frozen dinner alone in front a TV or a computer.

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