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Expert Dinner Advice

The Importance of Family Meals Dr. William Doherty
Family meals are precious opportunities for family connection in a hurry-up world.

Does your family believe in the importance of family meals?

Family meals are more than feeding events; they are precious opportunities for family connection in a hurry-up world. Dinner in particular is the only time when most families are together, face to face, doing the same activity and sharing in conversation. At the dinner table we can reconnect, relax, discuss, debate, and laugh together. It’s not that we can’t do these things in other ways, but for most families the rest of the day is too scattered with everyone going in separate directions.

Family dinners are one of the main ways that families create their own cultures. Parents tell family stories, children talk about their teachers and friends, people discuss the hot news of the day, and we get to know the ups and downs of one another’s lives. Over time young children learn to understand and share more as they move fully into the life of their families. They also learn to help with meal setup, preparation and cleanup – tasks where they learn that family life means working together.

All of this makes common sense to most people. But in recent years research has shown important benefits to children, and also to adults, of having regular meals with their families. Children grow up healthier, smarter, and better adjusted when their parents take the lead in having regular dinnertimes. And adults feel better about their own lives.

Of course, there is nothing automatically good about sitting down to eat together. Family dinners can be hurried, hectic, and full of conflict, in which case they don’t do much good for anyone. But we can learn to make them times of connection rather than frustration. And nearly all of us can improve our family dinner experience even if we are already doing a good job. Explore the rest of the site to see how Barilla can help your family learn the importance of family meals.