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What's the Big Deal About Family Dinners, Anyway?

September 25, 2017



“Mom, what’s for dinner?”


This was the question I dreaded. It made me feel like an inadequate mom. When my kids were younger, our meal repertoire was painfully small, and we were all sick of eating the same things: pizza, grilled cheese, ham steaks and hash brown casserole, chicken strips, pancakes, French toast, spaghetti, and a few more things. I’d go grocery shopping, come home, and still have no idea what to fix. The meat I bought would be quickly frozen so it would not go bad, and then I didn’t know what to do with the large solid block of meat. Often, it would sit in the freezer for so long I would eventually throw it away. 


Why, I wondered, was cooking so important for families to master? What’s the big deal about family dinners, anyway?  Come to find out, family dinners are important, if you like the following benefits.


1. Lower incidence of smoking, drug and alcohol use.  

"Our surveys have consistently found a relationship between children having frequent dinners with their parents and a decreased risk of their smoking, drinking or using other drugs, and that parental engagement fostered around the dinner table is one of the most potent tools to help parents raise healthy, drug-free children. Simply put: frequent family dinners make a big difference." Click here to read The importance of family dinners VIII by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse which discusses research on this topic.


2. Kids do better academically. Dr. Catherine Snow found that young children who had regular family meals had larger vocabularies and better reading skills.  Other studies found that there was a correlations between frequent family dinners and higher test scores.

For research on this, see