INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Eating dinner as a family could have more benefits than you think.
The Indiana Youth Institute found sitting down for a meal as a family more often has startling effects on kids.
For teens, dinner with mom and dad will make them less likely to get into fights, smoke or use drugs, and even reduce their risk of suicide. For all children, the meals together improve academic performance, attendance and graduation rates.
Experts say it’s all about parents showing interest in their children’s well-being.
“The more conversations you’re having with your kids about the small things, what you think are small things. Children see that as you being engaged with them, and they’re going to be more likely to come to you when they have bigger issues,” Indiana Youth Institute’s Glenn Augustine said.
Busy schedules can make it difficult for some families to set aside time for meals, but Augustine said it doesn’t always have to be dinner.
“All those sorts of things – just the common everyday sorts of conversations that you can have with your children to make sure that they’re doing well – really can happen around a dinner table or a breakfast table or a lunch table on the weekend, if that’s the time,” he said.
Research found less than half of Indiana families eat a meal together every day. About one in four families struggle to make it happen more than 4 times a week.