The Deal with Regular Family Meals
New Survey: Teens Enjoy Family MealsThink that teens don’t like family meals? Think again. A recent survey of 1,063 teens, conducted by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, found that 84 percent of teens prefer dinner with their families, while 13 percent prefer to eat dinner alone.
Nearly half of the teens who responded said that the dinner table is the best time to talk to their parents. Additionally, more than half of the teens who enjoy frequent family dinners say they receive anti-drug messages from their parents.
“We know from decades of research that parental involvement at home is critical to children’s school and life success,” explains Dr. Holly Kreider, a senior research associate with Sociometrics Corporation. “The dinner table can provide an ideal opportunity for parents to inquire about their children’s school day and create a positive, warm connection with them.”
But taking the time to prepare and eat a meal – among jobs, school, clubs and sports – can seem daunting. So, how can families increase their time at the dinner table?
Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) has cooked up a solution with “Just Add Family: Delicious Recipes for the Entire Family.” This cookbook is a compilation of club member family recipes and includes the following tips to help families spend quality time at the dinner table:
- Ask your teens about their classes, homework, teachers and upcoming assignments. Find out if they would like your help or want to brainstorm on an assignment.
- Ask everyone to contribute stories and share their favorite part or biggest challenge of the day.
- Plan and allow all family members to contribute to the next day’s menu, preparation and cleanup.
- Discuss an activity the family can do together, and set a date for it.
- Talk with your children about a book they read or a movie they have seen. It might turn into a family book club or a movie night.
Dr. Kreider emphasizes that the way dinnertime is spent may be as important as how often family dinners occur.