Posted by & filed under Child Development, Early Social and Emotional development, Families and Peers, Health Psychology, Human Development.

Description: Sitting down to dinner at least four times a week with at least one adult has consistently been shown to contribute powerfully to children’s resilience and to their general positive development. This is one of those findings where on its face it is not entirely clear what the underlying causal factors are that’s producing the significant result. So speculate for a few moments before you read the linked article about what it might be that children gain from sitting at dinner with an out at least four times a week the provides them psychological and emotional food for growth beyond whatever might be on their dining room table nutritionally.

Source: Where’s the Magic in Family Dinner? By Lisa Damour, New York Times, Well Section.

Date: April 13, 2016

Magic in Dinner

Links: Article Link —

While there are large number of factors that may contribute to the positive to all mental outcomes associated with regular family meals one of the strongest contributors is likely the parenting style that this practice reflects. Deanna Baumrind’s parenting styles and most importantly her authoritative style which trades most strongly in the provision of structure and warmth by parents for children and adolescents may account for a large part of the positive developmental benefits of regular family meals. Their very existence in the expectation that all family members stop other activities and gather together at a particular time for a meal reflects structure and likely warmth. In addition the opportunity provided by regular meals to discuss current individual and family events, achievements, and even failures provides powerful positive developmental feedback to growing children and adolescents. Dreams to the more details of how this relationship may actually work you have a look at some of the references listed under reading further below.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sort of experience did you have in relation to family dinners as you were growing up? What did you take away from those experiences developmentally?
  2. If you’re providing advice to new parents, particularly to parents of preschool and school age children in relation to whether or not they should make the effort to set aside a number of days a week for a family dinner; what would you tell them?
  3. Are there some ways you can think of that these positive findings might be of use in designing interventions for families with young children and for families with teenage children who may be struggling somewhat socially?

References (Read Further):

Eisenberg, M. E., Olson, R. E., Neumark-Sztainer, D., Story, M., & Bearinger, L. H. (2004). Correlations between family meals and psychosocial well-being among adolescents. Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine, 158(8), 792-796.

Elgar, F. J., Craig, W., & Trites, S. J. (2013). Family dinners, communication, and mental health in Canadian adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 52(4), 433-438.

Fulkerson, J. A., Story, M., Mellin, A., Leffert, N., Neumark-Sztainer, D., & French, S. A. (2006). Family dinner meal frequency and adolescent development: Relationships with developmental assets and high-risk behaviors. Journal of Adolescent Health, 39(3), 337-345.