It isn't that people aren't interested in family meals that they eat together anymore. It's just that what with conflicting work schedules, play dates for the children, soccer practice and everything else thrown in, everyone's so busy. And a family meal is turning out to be something that you need to mark in into your schedule book for the week. If you think that things can improve over the holidays, that's where you would be mistaken. Holidays come with school events, holiday shopping, parties and a whole lot more unpredictability thrown in. If anything, you tend to lose whatever little family meal time you did have on a regular day. You are reduced to eating out of a vending machine before long and the children call breakfast something that's in the form of a bar (doesn't it make food a lot more appetizing when you add "bar" to its name).
Even so, America seems to be doing pretty well here. 10% more families over the last 10 years have managed to find a way to eat together at family meals at least five times a week. For all the work you put into getting the family together for meal times, how do you know that you get anything valuable? Here's what researchers say he get in return for your trouble.
The first thing to note here to get you believing in family meals is to see how kids react to it all. There was a survey done about 10 years ago that found that children who eat at least a meal a day with their parents end up finding a great deal more to like in fruits and vegetables than other children who don't. In fact, children under 15 who eat with their families are said to not develop as much of an interest in junk food. For a child, just to have your mother or father tell you from time to time how one or the other fruit or vegetable is good for you seems to really make a difference over the long run.
It's when you're young that you are introduced to all kinds of new foods. Children aren't going to hear about brussels sprouts or broccoli all by themselves. They need a concerned family member to make it their job and introduce them to all of this. The simple act of having the parent gently force child to try and finish a new food makes a great deal of difference. There are less other tangible but equally important things to gain from family meals as well.
There are studies that demonstrate children who eat their meals at the family table find depression descending on them less often, consider suicide or have an eating disorder less often, and are likely to have better self-esteem. Perhaps the reason this is so is that if a child is depressed, everyone at the family table is likely to see this right away. It's a time when everyone sits and faces one another and gets a chance to take a close look. Surprisingly enough, when we keep bleating to our children that they just need to say no to drugs, we often neglect to see that there is a much better way to get them to do this. You guessed it: the answer is time together at family meals.
Studies show that children who eat with their families every day of the week are only 20% as likely as other kids to try any kind of drug, alcohol or smoking. Being closely in touch with one's society, one's community and one's family happens to be the best way to grow up.