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The table is the most reliable way for families to connect

  • Written by  Comment: Anne Fishel
Research shows that eating together has multiple benefits for everyone involved, but especially for children

After 20 years of research, clinical psychologist Anne Fishel has found sitting down for a nightly meal together as a family is great for the brain, the body and the spirit.

In most industrialized countries, families don’t farm together, play musical instruments or stitch quilts on the porch.

So dinner time around the family table is the most reliable way for families to connect and find out what’s going on with each other.

In a survey, American teens were asked when they were most likely to talk with their parents: dinner was their top answer.

Kids who eat dinner with their parents experience less stress and have a better relationship with them.

This daily mealtime connection is like a seat belt for travelling the potholed road of childhood and adolescence and all its possible risky behaviours.

Of course, the real power of dinners lies in their interpersonal quality. If family members sit in stony silence, if parents yell at each other, or scold their kids, family dinner won’t confer positive benefits.

Sharing a roast chicken won’t magically transform parent-child relationships.

But, dinner around the family table may be the one time of the day when a parent and child can share a positive experience - a well-cooked meal, a joke, or a story - and these small moments can gain momentum to create stronger connections away from the table.

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