It has been said that you can use statistics to prove anything. One of my favorite statements about statistics is that 37.9% of all statistics are made up (please read that last statement carefully before quoting it). When I was in college a professor used the following example to prove how statistics can be used to prove any hypothesis: Eating ice cream increases your chance of drowning. That may be an odd statement but statistically this is true in North America as more ice cream is eaten during the summer when people are at the swimming pool or out on the lake.
With that in mind I was curious when I read a statement that having dinner as a family can help a student get better grades. I wondered if this was another example of statistics being used to bolster an opinion so I started to do a little research. What I found was numerous articles talking about the importance of the family meal and that a number of studies that have been done on the subject. Below I have clipped some quotes/highlights from articles I found.
- Studies show that the more often families eat together, the less likely kids are to smoke, drink, do drugs, get depressed, develop eating disorders and consider suicide, and the more likely they are to do well in school, delay having sex, eat their vegetables, learn big words and know which fork to use . . . . . you get a glimpse of the power of this habit and why social scientists say such communion acts as a kind of vaccine, protecting kids from all manner of harm.
- Researchers found essentially that family dinner gets better with practice; the less often a family eats together, the worse the experience is likely to be, the less healthy the food and the more meager the talk. Among those who eat together three or fewer times a week, 45% say the TV is on during meals, and nearly one-third say there isn’t much conversation
- The CASA study found that a majority of teens who ate three or fewer meals a week with their families wished they did so more often.
- The average parent spends 38.5 minutes per week in meaningful conversation with their children… (A.C. Nielsen Co.) By simply eating dinner together each night and making an effort to talk to your kids, you can easily more than quadruple that time.
- Research on family meals does not explore whether it makes a difference if dinner is with two parents or one or even whether the meal needs to be dinner.
- Family dinners are more important than play, story time and other family events in the development of vocabulary of younger children. (Harvard Research, 1996)
Our world is getting busier and families are torn in many directions with all the activities and responsibilities of modern life. It can be almost impossible for families to have every dinner together but keeping time together as a family around the table has many benefits.