The Family that Eats Together… Functions Better?

By: David Lee Sexton, Jr., MS and Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFT

family Eating Together
Pixabay[Family Eating by skeeze on February 2, 2015, CC0]
The average day for the average family can often be described fairly well in just one word: BUSY. Between work, maintaining the home, getting kids to and from school, after-school activities, such as sports or clubs, and everything in-between, families have packed schedules! As a result, it may be difficult to carve out time during the day to sit down as a family and enjoy a meal together. In spite of the difficulty, research indicates that this is something families should strive for, as it has been shown to correlate with a variety of positive outcomes.

What Does the Research Say?
Previous research has identified family mealtime as instrumental in strengthening familial bonds, improving nutrition habits, and fostering development in kids (Larson, Branscomb, and Wiley, 2006). Furthermore, more recent studies have linked frequency of family mealtimes with other positive outcomes, such as increased communication among family members and increased family life satisfaction reported by parents (Lawrence and Plisco, 2017).

Interesting… But Why?
Prior studies have found support for a relationship between expressiveness, characterized by laughing and joking together, talking about each other’s day, and discussing interpersonal relationships, and life satisfaction (Burns and Pearson, 2011). Thus, Lawrence and Plisco (2017) suggest that family mealtime simply provides an opportunity for such expressiveness, and the act of gathering together for a meal provides families the opportunity to converse, problem solve, and bond.

Want to Learn More?
On August 21, 2018 at 11:00am ET, the MFLN Nutrition and Wellness and Family Development teams will be providing a 60-minute webinar on the power of family mealtimes.  An archived version will be available for those who are unable to participate in the live event.

You can download and print the PDF version of our flyer for The Power of Family Mealtimes!

References

Larson, R. W., Branscomb, K. R., & Wiley, A. R. (2006). Forms and functions of family mealtimes: Multidisciplinary perspectives. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 111(3), 1-16.

Lawrence, S. D., & Plisco, M. K. (2017). Family mealtimes and family functioning. American Journal of Family Therapy, 45(4), 195-205. doi:10.1080/01926187.2017.1328991

This post was written by members of the MFLN Family Development Team. The Family Development team aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network Family Development team on our website, Facebook, and Twitter.

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