Friday, August 17, 2012

Dinner Time, Shminner Time, as Long as You Connect With Your Children

A recent NY Times Op-Ed pointed out that the benefits of family dinners aren’t as strong or as lasting as previous studies suggest. Authors Meier and Musick, who published their research in the well-respected Journal of Marriage and the Family, thankfully stopped short of claiming that family dinners don’t affect family well-being at all. The benefits might not be as strong as previously thought…..but there are still benefits! It’s our old friend “causality” that wrecks the party. Everyone’s having a grand old time until a researcher comes along and tries to PROVE that something CAUSES something else. That’s when the lifeguard blows the whistle and yells, everyone out of the pool (can you tell this is a summer-time Blog Post?). You can read the Op-Ed (click here) and judge for yourself or just rely on my Cliff Notes below, since it’s dinner time soon and I recommend that you turn off all electronic items and go enjoy dinner together with your family. KEY: “Given that eating is universal and routine, family meals offer a natural opportunity for parental influence: there are few other contexts in family life that provide a regular window of focused time together.” “If you aren’t able to make the family meal happen on a regular basis, don’t beat yourself up: just find another way to connect with your kids.”