Rigorous Academic and Activities Schedules Derail Family Time
Gathering together for meals is an ideal time for parents to connect with their children. It’s a time to listen to one another and bond, and a time for parents to reinforce their family values. Unfortunately, calendars packed with work meetings, homework, and after school activities has pushed family time to the back burner. Expectations to excel in school and sports overshadow the importance of family dinners. The consequence is that the number of times families eat together has fallen over recent decades.
Children are Spending More Time with Babysitters, Drivers and Tutors
Participating in multiple after school activities increases the number of scheduling conflicts, which leads parents to outsource responsibilities. It has become increasingly common for parents to hire someone else to chauffeur children to and from activities. In fact, there is enough demand for the service that a new market has emerged with companies such as HopSkipDrive taking over the role of taxi mom. Parents hire tutors to help students get ahead in class and babysitters to chaperone activities.
In the midst of these hectic schedules, enjoying meals together, whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner, is an important time for parents and children to stay connected.
Health and Wellness Benefits of Family Meals
There are lower rates of drug and alcohol use by teens who have frequent dinners with their families. They also have fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression and are less likely to attempt suicide.
The benefits of family meals are realized because of parent-child communication and interaction. It’s not a time for sitting next to each other while tuned in to the TV or other digital devices. Enjoying meals without the distraction of digital entertainment is associated with lower obesity rates, improved feelings of social connection, and enhanced engagement in the experience.