Gathering at the dinner table can benefit more than kids' stomachs. A 2006 study by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that children who eat dinner with their families five or more times a week are more likely to get higher grades in school. The trend transcends differences in gender, family structure and socioeconomic level.
What makes family dinners so important to success? "The communication that occurs during family dinners is critical in building a relationship with your children and to understanding the world in which they live," says Joseph A. Califano Jr., chairman and president of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. "Making the commitment to have dinner as a family on a regular basis can influence your kids' lives more than anything else you do."
The benefits of eating dinner as a family are clear - but what about making time for a family meal among sports and school schedules, after-school play rehearsals and your own busy job? One company - KFC - is setting the table for success with www.bringbackdinner.com, a comprehensive online resource designed by moms, for moms, to help families connect more around the dinner table. The site features fun and accessible advice on a variety of dinner-related issues, from mealtime manners and etiquette to tips on budgeting at the grocery store.
Julienne Smith, founder and author of "Food For Talk" and member of KFC's Moms Matter! Advisory Board, is a contributor to the site. "I'm a mom myself, and I know from experience that families are starved for quality time," Smith says. "Meals are a great - and often overlooked - occasion for the entire family to decompress and connect on a more intimate level. BringBackDinner.com literally puts it all out there, with great tips that can take the work out of the family dinner and a fun online community that will keep moms coming back for more."
Smith's "Food For Talk" is an actual recipe box of conversation starters specifically designed to promote family bonding and togetherness, based on Smith's experiences with her own children. A few examples include:
-Would you rather have a lot of acquaintances or one close friend? Why?
-Share one thing you are most grateful for today.
-If you could eat dinner as a family anywhere you wanted, where would it be and why?
For more information on "Food For Talk," The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University and more tips on successful family dinners, visit www.bringbackdinner.com.