When a colleague recently told me about her Thanksgiving tradition, it got me thinking about family dinners — a topic I consider every night around 7 pm and with every patient I see in family therapy.
Indeed, as a mental health provider, I sometimes feel I’d go out of business if families had regular dinners with one another. Truly. There are dozens of research studies that show that frequent family dinners promote kids’ mental and emotional well being — by lowering rates of depression, anxiety, eating disorders and substance abuse, for starters. Family meals also strengthen children’s resilience, self-esteem and sense of connectedness to their parents. Isn’t that exactly the goal of therapy?
It’s no wonder that I often have to stifle the urge to say, ‘Stop wasting your time here. Go home and eat dinner together.’
But, I’m well aware of how hard it is for busy, harried families to find time to sit down to dinner, and I’m always looking for new ways to unlock the benefits without adding any guilt or pressure. So, that is why my colleague’s remarks sparked my interest. Here’s what she said….”
Read the rest of this post on Commonhealth, or listen to the additional podcast below. Then tell us: What is your experience with the impact of family dinners on your own mental health? Do you find that family dinner makes you happier, or is there something about your family dinner experience that could use a bit of work?