Call me old-fashioned, but eating dinner together as a family has always been important to me and my family. My father (a doctor too) always made it home in time to eat with us. I can’t imagine not having that time together with my own family. Yes, sometimes it’s not possible to eat together all the time — a parent works late (or has a second job); a child has a practice or a game; a parent acts as a short-order cook, preparing different meals for different, picky children so no one sits and eats together. There are lots of reasons why we won’t have a perfect dinnertime attendance record. But as I always say: “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”
For 18 years, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA Columbia) has been studying the relationship between family mealtime and youth behaviors — and yes, there is a relationship.
Teens who eat family dinners at least five times per week report better relationships with their parents, less drug and alcohol use, less smoking, more frequent attendance at religious services and lower levels of stress than teens who have family dinners less than three times a week, the CASA Columbia research indicates.
“The parental engagement fostered around the dinner table is one of the most potent tools to help parents raise healthy, drug-free children,” said Emily Feinstein, senior policy analyst at CASA Columbia.
In a related article, Sodergren talks about the “10,000 Tables” pledge:
When last month’s One Young World Summit in Pittsburgh was in the planning stages, Chef Jamie Oliver notified planners that he wanted to launch a pledge of some sort that would link Pittsburghers to his Food Revolution, the Brit’s personal crusade to save America’s health by changing eating habits.
Mr. Piacentini said he and his associates kicked around a number of ideas but finally settled on a family mealtime pledge that they dubbed “10,000 Tables” in hopes of prompting that many Pittsburgh-area families to promise they’ll eat a family meal together at least once a week. (To sign up, go to letsmovepittsburgh.org/10000_tables.php.)