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Eating With Your Kids

Movies and television shows often portray idyllic family dinners in which everyone is sitting around a table, sharing stories of their day and enjoying a meal together. However, as a father of a nearly 4-year old and a 7 month old, tranquil, delightful moments of family bonding over a meal can be difficult to come by. Our dinnertime is often interrupted by explanations by our eldest daughter about how she is not hungry, coupled with reasons that she needs to get up and walk around. This is often exacerbated if our youngest is crying or fussing. This being the case, my wife and I still feel it is worthwhile to have dinner together as a family and research encourages this practice.

The Washington Post published an article in 2015 that highlighted the work of Anne Fishel, a professor at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of The Family Dinner Project. The article, titled, “The most important thing you can do with your kids? Eat dinner with them”, discussed recent research into the effects that having dinner together as a family can have on child development. The article breaks down how dinnertime is good for the brain, the body, and the soul.

The article begins by explaining how family dinners are beneficial for the brain. According to data collected by Fishel’s team, for younger children, dinnertime conversation increased vocabulary more than being read aloud to. The reason given for this is that the variety of words you use in everyday conversation is greater than the words typically found in children’s books that you may read to your child. Furthermore, the study found that for school aged children, regular family mealtimes has a greater effect on high academic achievement than time spent in school, doing homework, playing sports, or doing art. For teenagers, eating meals together as