Focus on the Family
Q: You’ve talked about the importance of family mealtime, but I’m not sure it’s worth reorchestrating everyone’s schedule to make it happen. My wife and I both work, and our kids are involved in all sorts of activities. Tell me there’s another way!
Jim: There are countless ways to create quality family time. You’re only limited by your own creativity and each family member’s willingness to make it happen.
But let’s stay focused on dinnertime. I’d argue that it IS worth “re-orchestrating everyone’s schedule.” Honestly, this is a struggle for me. With my travel schedule and long days at the office, it’s tough to be home for dinner. But my wife and I are determined to make it happen as often as possible.
The statistics speak for themselves. A federally funded study of American teenagers from 2000 found that regular family meals are strongly linked with academic success and psychological health, as well as lower rates of alcohol and drug abuse, early sexual activity and suicide.
A 2005 Columbia University study found that teenagers who eat with their families at least five times a week are more likely to get better grades and less likely to have substance abuse problems. In fact, the University of Michigan found that mealtime is the single greatest predictor of better achievement — more than studying, sports or other school activities.
Another study of preschoolers found that mealtime conversation built vocabulary better than listening to stories or reading aloud. And research conducted in Minnesota found that adolescent girls who ate with their families at least five times a week were at far less risk for anorexia and bulimia.
The bottom line: It’s GOOD to share mealtime. And it’s worth the sacrifice to make it happen consistently!
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Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family, host of the Focus on the Family radio program, and a husband and father of two. Dr. Juli Slattery is a licensed psychologist, co-host of Focus on the Family, author of several books, and a wife and mother of three. Submit your questions to: ask@FocusOnTheFamily.com COPYRIGHT 2012 FOCUS ON THE FAMILY, COLORADO SPRINGS, CO 80995