It can be hard to find enough time in everyone’s busy schedules to sit down and have a family meal together. But even though we’re crunched for time, it is worth taking a moment to spend quality time with your family. The more meals spent together per week, the higher the benefits. Three or more family meals per week is suggested in order to see results, however, ideally a family would spend five to seven nights together around the dining table. Here’s how dining as a family can benefit your teen—and you.
Conversation is bound to erupt with your whole family around a table. Ask your teen how their day was, if they need help with their homework or need a ride to soccer practice the next day. Talking with your teen teaches them how to listen and offers them the chance to express their own opinions and feelings, according to the University of Florida.
Regular family meals are nurturing for children and teens. This time together teaches them morals, manners, values, improves their self-esteem and motivation and helps them to develop their personal identity. Teens who eat with their families are also less likely to develop at-risk behaviors or act out because they have respect for their parents and the boundaries they have set.
A study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development also showed that young people who eat meals with their parents are less likely to skip class and/or do poorly in school.
Staying at home to eat is not only good for family bonding but is also good for the family’s health. When cooking your own meals you can choose healthier food options (like lots of colorful veggies) that taste delicious and improve physical and mental well-being. Studies have shown that young people who eat with their families are less likely to become depressed or develop an eating disorder, according to Health Magazine. Kids and teens who eat with their parents are 40 percent less likely to be overweight, which is considered an eating disorder.
Overall, dedicating a couple of hours a day to your family shouldn’t be a burden—especially when it has so many health benefits. If time is an issue, consider setting aside a few days a week to cook and eat together. Stick to it! You will never know what you might discover about your teen—or about yourself.