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The importance of family meals

By Staff | Dec 26, 2007

The holidays bring different thoughts and memories to each of us.

I would venture to say that for many, a special holiday meal is something many of us think of. It is that thought that brings me to our topic today. New research findings continue to support the importance of eating together as a family.

Here are two powerful examples. Toddlers who eat family meals display remarkable language development, according to a Harvard study.

Of 2,000 new vocabulary words gained, 1,000 were traced to involvement in family mealtimes compared to 145 new words gained as the result of being read to.

Teens who eat family meals are five times less likely to engage in risky behaviors than teens who don’t, according to Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.

Miriam Weinstein, author of “The Surprising Power of Family Meals,” has some simple rules for families to follow at mealtime.

They are: Parents should have no agenda beyond eating and talking-but no lecturing. Family members should eat facing each other, not a television screen. Everyone should eat the same food. Weinstein says family meals provide a steady spot in a turbulent world.

They also provide one of the best opportunities a parent has for prevention and repair. The meals do not have to be the Martha Stewart type, the benefits mentioned above can just as easily be met over a bowl of soup, leftovers or take home pizza.

So as you are enjoying a holiday meal with extended families this season, make a resolution in 2008 to have family meals in your home.