After Dr. Fishel’s recent lecture to Communities that Care in Franklin County, MA, the local news recapped her visit with an article in the Greenfield Recorder.
As the article relates, “In Franklin County, the most recent annual survey of teens shows that 58 percent of teens report that they have dinner with their families four or more nights a week — and that among those teens, there’s a dramatic correlation with lower use of alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana, a lower risk of depression and stronger connections with parents, along with a higher consumption of fruit.” Building upon that local research and the numerous other studies that have shown the benefits of family dinner for both children and adults, Dr. Fishel gave a talk to school and human services workers who deal directly with families to encourage them to help their clients make dinnertime a priority.
Each year, more than 9 in 10 Americans gather around the table with family and friends for Thanksgiving. But only 50 percent of us eat with our family on a regular basis. That’s too bad. Twenty years of research has shown that family dinners are great for the brain (enhancing preschool vocabulary and raising test scores), body (improving cardiovascular health in teens and lowering the odds of obesity) and spirit (reducing rates of behavioral problems, stress and substance abuse). But in extolling the virtues of the family dinner, we may have obscured what the meal is actually about and why it serves parents and children. In that gap lies a thick stew of myths.
1. Teens don’t want to eat with their parents
2. Family dinners are anti-feminist
3. Family dinners depend on a homemade meal
4. Families don’t have time to pull it off
5. Food fights make family dinners impossible
Read the article in full and find out what Dr. Fishel has to say about these five common family dinner myths on The Washington Post.
In a recent Boston Globe article, Dr. Fishel spoke about a new Canadian study linking family dinners to lower BMI and better cardiovascular health indicators in children and teens.
“If kids aren’t welcomed into the conversation, or if there’s criticism, you’re not going to see the benefits,” said Fishel, author of the book “Home for Dinner: Mixing Food, Fun, and Conversation for a Happier Family and Healthier Kids.” “There’s nothing magical about lasagna in itself.”
Among other points made in the interview, Dr. Fishel offered suggestions for families who may be too busy to gather around the dinner table every night. She also encouraged parents to involve kids actively in food preparation, which can lighten the workload as well as heighten children’s interest in family meals by giving them ownership of the process.
On June 1, 2015, Dr. Anne Fishel will be joining the regular Dr. Greene “Let’s Talk Kids’ Health” Twitter chat to discuss the importance of family dinners. The chat, titled The Power of Family Dinner, will take place at 9 p.m. EST under the hashtag #LTKH.
Dr. Fishel will be lending her expertise to subjects such as:
The impact of family dinners on teen behavior
What research shows about the health benefits of family dinners
How conversation at the dinner table benefits kids
And many other important topics! We hope you’ll join in the chat and invite your friends and family to participate as well.
In most families, the bread and butter of dinnertime talk centers around the question “How was your day?” In some families, this simple question opens the floodgates: Kids will talk about recess, or about the rebuke someone endured from a teacher, or about an intriguing moral dilemma that arose in class. But some kids will only respond with a one-word answer: “Okay.” In other families, one member grabs all the airtime and rattles off a string of anecdotes about what happened during the day; meanwhile, everyone else will be tapping toes, eager to get a word in edgewise.
How can you solve these dilemmas and get everyone at your dinner table engaged in conversation? Check out this excerpt from my book, and some practical tips, on the Utne Reader.
In a recent interview with the Martha’s Vineyard Gazette, I pointed out the bright side of the long, harsh winter we’ve endured in New England: Weather like this is great for family dinners. Spending time together huddled indoors offers an opportunity for families to spend more time sharing meals together, which I’ve encouraged in my family therapy practice for several years now.
Why did I begin recommending family dinners as part of therapy for my clients? It all began with a roast chicken. You can read the story, and my complete interview, on the Vineyard Gazette.
As a family therapist, I often have the impulse to tell families to go home and have dinner together rather than spending an hour with me. And 20 years of research in North America, Europe and Australia back up my enthusiasm for family dinners. It turns out that sitting down for a nightly meal is great for the brain, the body and the spirit. And that nightly dinner doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal that took three hours to cook, nor does it need to be made with organic arugula and heirloom parsnips.
For starters, researchers found that for young children, dinnertime conversation boosts vocabulary even more than being read aloud to. The researchers counted the number of rare words – those not found on a list of 3,000 most common words – that the families used during dinner conversation. Young kids learned 1,000 rare words at the dinner table, compared to only 143 from parents reading storybooks aloud….
Find out how family dinners boost academic performance, improve kids’ health and emotional well-being, improve behavior, and lower risk factors on The Washington Post.