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The Positive Effects of a Family Meal Together

Andrew Larson, a Therapist at NorthStar Counseling Center in Hutchinson, likes to share advice from Dr. Bill Doherty, an authority on marriage and families.

“As parents we often worry if we are doing enough to give our children the best opportunity to succeed in life,” Larson said. “According to Dr. Doherty and other research, by simply having a family meal once a day your child is more likely to have better grades and make many more healthy life choices.”585410f138b0d_image


Eating together as a family can make a positive difference in children’s lives, Larson said. Studies have also shown that students not only have more successes if they regularly have meals with their families but that they want more family time.

One national study found that mealtime together as a family is a stronger indicator of academic success and well-being of teenagers than school homework completion or participation in sports, art or religious activities. The frequency of family meals is also important. Having dinner as a family at least four times a week is the greatest indicator of reduced alcohol and drug use, early sexual activity and suicide.


What have students said about family time? In a study of children age 9 to 13, only one third said they spend time with their family. The barriers they cited were their parents’ busy schedules and their own busy schedules. In another study, teenagers were asked about their worries or concerns. Their top worries were not having enough time with their parents and their education. Although they might not always show it, teenagers want more family time and having meal times together is an important way to provide it.


To learn more, attend Larson’s presentation, “Take Back Your Family,” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19, at the Hutchinson Middle School auditorium, 1365 South Grade Road S.W., Hutchinson. To register, call the Community Education office at 320-587-2975.