You’ve probably heard that family dinners have been proven to benefit children. It’s true, studies have shown that regular dinners with the family lead to healthier diets, better psychological health, and higher grades.
However, we also know that families are busy and often not all together at the same time. So, I have good news for you. In Dr. Lisa Damour’s book Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood, she discusses a study that took a closer look at the magic of family dinners and there are some great take-aways for all you busy (and single) parents of teens.
First, the family dinner proved to be just as beneficial for a child’s well-being if just one parent is present. Often one-on-one can be even more meaningful. So if a family dinner looks like you and your teen eating at Apple-bee’s on your way to or from the next thing on your calendar, give yourself credit.
Second, and more surprisingly, all the perks of the family dinner are still present for a teen who says they don’t get a long well with their parent(s). That means when your teen starts to roll their eyes at the suggestion of sitting down to dinner, they are still getting the advantages. Spending that time together shows them they are a priority to you, even if they are less than pleasant company.
Lastly, these family dinners do not need to be happening every night. The study mentioned in Damour’s book showed that the benefits were present from dinners happening just 4 nights a week. So, don’t stress the couple of nights per week when it can’t happen.
The purpose of the family dinner isn’t to be the picture of the traditional family. If you show your kids that moments with them matter to you, you’re doing it right.