Poll: Do You Eat Dinner as a Family?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  120 comments   :  23,303 Views

Growing up, evenings were busy in my family. My sister and I were involved in various activities, my mom worked part time (which sometimes included evenings) and my dad played soccer at least one night a week. But even though our schedules were full, I remember we usually took time to eat dinner together. T.V. was never part of our meal time routine, so it became the perfect opportunity to catch up on the events of the day. As we got older, those 30 minutes were often the only chance we had to spend time together during the week.

I figured this was the way most families ate dinner, but as I got older, I realized mine was the minority. Most kids I knew either didnít eat with their parents (because of scheduling conflicts or just general routine), or if they did, it was in front of the T.V. where no one spoke. They just quietly gobbled their food while staring at the screen.

Previous research has shown numerous benefits to eating meals as a family. It can help improve communication between parents and children. Children who eat more family dinners (4 or more times a week) have shown improved academic performance compared to those who eat together less (3 or fewer times a week.) Families who eat together also tend to have better nutrition than those who donít.

The good news is that more people are making time to sit down at the table as a family. According to a 2005 Columbia University study, 58 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds said they ate dinner with their families at least five times weekly, up from 47 percent in 1998. A recent Chicago-area poll found that suburban families ate dinner together at home five out of seven nights, and nearly half of the respondents (47 percent) said they spend more time with their children than their parents did. The struggling economy likely has something to do with this, as families are looking for ways to cut expenses.

Because of how I grew up, eating dinner together is now a priority in my own family. I get upset if my husband is checking emails on his Blackberry or answering phone calls. Thatís our time together, even if weíre eating the meal the pizza delivery man just brought to our door. Eating together doesnít mean you need to cook a gourmet meal every night. Although good nutrition is important, to me, family dinners are more about the time weíre spending together.

Need more reasons to eat as a family? Check out The Benefits of Eating Together.

Do you eat dinner as a family? Do you think itís important? Why or why not?

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  • 120
    We do and I think its very important that children learn that family life includes eating together. - 8/27/2010   4:05:42 PM
  • 119
    We usually eat dinner as a family, unless someone is away for work, a sports event and so on. Even then whoever is still at home eats together. - 8/23/2010   1:48:39 PM
    I live with my sister and they always eat as a family together unless one of the boys are in sports and can't make it home. When we where going up we sometimes ate at the table as a family, but when I was married our kitchen table was a counter, we ate in the living room..... - 8/21/2010   9:41:22 PM
  • SBATES63
    My family always ate together while I was growing up, and I always insisted we did when I had a family of my own. Often it's the only time we got together to share our day. It also makes it worth while to cook a healthy meal because I can witness everyone enjoying it. - 8/19/2010   2:58:36 PM
    As a single mom, I always make sure we sit down to eat supper together. It's a time of sharing our day and sometimes asking those family questions. So that we are all get our input in during that time. Along with making sure we also say our daily prayer at that time. It is truly one value that I believe that my kids know how important it is to spend that time together everyday. - 8/19/2010   10:44:36 AM
  • KSTEAT123
    We did eat dinner as a family, except when one of us had a sporting event. Now with my own family we try very hard to make sure everyone sits down to eat together. I think it is very important for family time. - 8/18/2010   8:40:24 AM
  • 114
    No, not unless you consider sitting on the couch together as eating dinner together. It is hard because I commute so far to work that by the time I get home, my daughter has already eaten dinner. My husband waits on me, but it is usually around 9pm before we eat. - 8/18/2010   6:59:21 AM
    Yes, We always ate dinner together. My children and I did too. They are grown, and married now. - 8/17/2010   10:21:25 PM
  • 112
    We never really did, I regret that so much. Between school activities we just did not. I don't think we were as close as a family because of that. Now my two sons are grown and on their own, just my daughter is left and I wish I could go back in time, my husband too. - 8/17/2010   10:42:26 AM
    We always eat dinner as a family. I do kickboxing 2 nights a week, and can't eat dinner before I go. But I will at least sit with everyone to talk about their day. My kids are still small so it's easier for us than it is for other families. I want to set a precidence for when they get older and get caught up in doing their own things that this time is important family time. - 8/17/2010   10:11:13 AM
    When my children were growing up, the family ate meals together at the table. Now the children are grown up and left home, I am confident in their ability to be confident when dining with others and engage in conversation with whoever they are sitting at a table with. Myself, I still enjoy a meal better when I sit at the table even when its by myself. - 8/17/2010   6:00:33 AM
  • 109
    We eat dinner together as a family most nights. No TV, ipods, etc. although we sometimes play peaceful background music. - 8/17/2010   12:59:18 AM
  • 108
    We eat at the dinner table at dinner time! Some-times lunch if we are here together - 8/16/2010   11:04:13 PM
    My husband and I have dinner together almost every night. It's our time to catch up and talk about each others day - 8/16/2010   7:01:30 PM
  • 106
    My husband and I used to eat at the same time, but with me on the loveseat and him at the dining table with the TV on, and we'd talk about what was on. We could talk all the time about the other stuff, before bed, before work, after dinner... But now we have exchange students, and providing dinner is part of the deal. Even though we don't *have* to eat with them, we don't want to have a guest eating by themselves, so we've been having family meals every night. It's lovely to eat with them and watch them enjoy the food and talk about the day. I'd like to think if I had children, I'd want to sit and eat with them like I do my big kids. When I was a kid, eating at the table together was the norm. - 8/16/2010   6:43:25 PM
  • 105
    It is just me so I don't alway sit at the table. However I do believe it is important. It was great for me growing up. You have time to talk with your family work out problems and just know what everone is doing. As I got older and family meal slowly stopped I never knew what was going on with my sibling or they me. We are not very close to this day. - 8/16/2010   1:47:52 PM
    Eating together for us is so important b/c it's the only time of the day we have a chance to communicate. During the week we only see each other on average 1.5 hs a day.We try to eat together every night. Sometimes it's really late as he gets home sometimes after 10PM. Occasionally I am already in bed when he gets home but usually will have left a meal for him.
    - 8/16/2010   1:47:51 PM
    We always sit down and eat dinner together, (me, my husband and our kids). It gives us a chance to talk about our day and discuss what's going on in the kids lives. Even if sometimes we eat dinner in front of the tv (a big NO, NO), we always eat and watch tv together. No one eats dinner without the whole family eating together. - 8/16/2010   11:33:19 AM
  • 102
    I totally agree with this blog. When I was growing up we had family dinners...even if it was from the pizza delivery person. Now I still enjoy eating dinner at the table at look forward to it each night. I live with my boyfriend who used to think that in front of the tv is where dinner was eaten and the kitchen table was for the mail. He's come around and enjoys that dinner time as well. I think it's very important to have that quality time with one another to talk about our days or what's coming up during the week! - 8/16/2010   9:21:25 AM
    I don't have a family 2 eat with, but I do sit @ my dinner table 2 eat. - 8/16/2010   8:18:33 AM
  • 100
    Definitely a priority for us. We stopped eating out so much limit it to 1 night a month, and we cook homecooked meals or maybe a frozen pizza if time is short. We let the kids help decide what we cook and we are eating healtheir and the kids seem happier. - 8/16/2010   7:39:28 AM
  • 99
    This is a priority for us. Very rarely do we not eat together as a family. I schedule other things around that time. - 8/15/2010   10:16:34 PM
  • 98
    We always had dinner growing up together as a family, even when my father wasn't at home (shiftwork with the military). When I left home and had my own household, my kids and I would have dinner together because my husband-at-the-time worked midnights and slept at supper time.

    I always insisted that the kids sit at the table to have dinner. It was a family thing. I would cook, one kid would set and clear the table, the other would wash the dishes, and then they would rotate the next night. Kept things even.

    My husband works in a busy restaurant and he eats in the afternoon because that's when he takes his break. He comes home after 7pm and has already eaten. I've eaten because I get home about 5pm or a little earlier and if I've worked out, I'm FAMISHED. I can't wait for him to eat. Besides, after 12 hours in front of food in various stages of preparation, he doesn't want to look at food for a while.

    I find myself eating in the living room in front of the television just for company. I find the table just too doggoned lonely when it's just me and I tend to eat more, believe it or not. His one day off, though, we make a deal out of it and set the table at a decent hour, eat together, and linger over coffee.

    I wish I had a family to eat with. If I had a family to eat with, I would vote a resounding YES to whether or not we eat together and if I thought it was important. - 8/15/2010   9:11:32 PM
  • 97
    When I first got married, I spent two days preparing a special recipe, and the night I was going to put it on the table, hubby came home (from his second job) and said, "I don't feel like eating." I never cooked again (not literally, but the point was - what's the point?! I went to all that effort for ?Nothing?!) However, now I enjoy making meals and can honestly say they are better than restaurant meals. I've taken some cooking classes for fun, and they gave me even more confidence to try new things. The only way to lose weight and keep it off is to be in control of what you eat.
    Hope you all have family meals and the benefits that go with it! - 8/15/2010   8:19:08 PM
    when i married my hubby i wanted to eat meals together . this is one fact we did without fail . the whole family ate dinner together . I thought is showed that we where a family . do not know how they felt . daugher family doesnt eat meals together . my son and his family neither so it did not work . did it . - 8/15/2010   7:52:39 PM
  • 95
    My parents always made sure we ate dinner together as a family. Like you, I thought everyone did that. Now that I'm married, my husband and I usually eat dinner together too. It hasn't ever been formally made a rule or anything, but it just seems like we both recognize that sometimes it may be our only time together for a while. - 8/15/2010   7:01:28 PM
    We recently have had a 15 year old grandson come to live with us. I think that it is very important to sit down and eat dinner together. We as the older generation, get to learn what is happening in the teenage generation. We stop and think it's not a lot different than when we were teenagers, they still have the same worries and concerns. - 8/15/2010   3:46:17 PM
  • 93
    I grew up in the 60's and everyone ate dinner as a family. I still do this with my own family, though most weeknights my husband is home late but at least my kids and I eat together. At the dining room table, with the places set out. I think that is important too. - 8/15/2010   1:30:27 PM
  • 92
    We are retired and have no children at home but generally eat dinner together. - 8/15/2010   12:49:53 PM
  • 91
    We do when we fix a good dinner. Sometimes when we cook something easy we eat in front of the TV. - 8/15/2010   11:41:12 AM
  • 90
    I grew up eating dinner as a family and continue to do so with my family. It is very important to me and my husband that we sit at the table and spend that time all together. - 8/15/2010   10:57:37 AM
  • NATALYA1221
    No. Not lately. :( Everyone is to busy. - 8/15/2010   10:18:27 AM
    I was raised eating as a family and now that I have a family of my own we still eat together - 8/15/2010   10:15:00 AM
  • MYST88
    Growing up my family never ate together. When I got married my husband always insisted we sit down and turn the TV off even before we had kids. It was then I learned the value of this time. I find that I am also more likely to cook a decent meal. - 8/15/2010   9:45:04 AM
  • 86
    We eat dinner together as a family. We felt that it was a good habit to start while our child was young so that it would be a habit once he got older with a busier schedule. - 8/15/2010   8:40:24 AM
  • 85
    We eat dinner and breakfast together every day as a family. I rarely had this when I was growing up so it was an important foundation for my family. - 8/15/2010   6:02:05 AM
  • 84
    Our family has always eaten dinner together, with the TV off, of course. Family time and conversation is important to us. - 8/15/2010   5:32:25 AM
  • 83
    I love to eat dinner with my husband, but he got a new job and now gets home two hours later than our usual dinner time.

    Sometimes I have a snack to tide me over so I can wait for him, but sometimes I just need my full dinner otherwise I just start continuously snacking until he gets there. - 8/15/2010   12:22:43 AM
  • 82
    Even though our children are all grown, my husband and I still sit at the dining room table every night for dinner. The TV is usually on, but we aren't really watching it. Our 3 children usually come by to join us for a meal at least once a week. (not all at once usually) and my son-in-law loves the family unity. They never sat at a table together to eat. I think one reason this is becoming popular again is because of 2 reasons: the economic downturn and people wanting to eat basic home-cooked meals, not fast food that may be unhealthy. - 8/14/2010   9:57:21 PM
  • 25LADY
    Eating together as a family is extremely important in our family. It always gives us a chance to learn about each others day & anything upcoming for the next day!! Even with 2 teenagers in high school in the house, the communication is key to keeping them on the right track!! - 8/14/2010   9:21:18 PM
    Until my kids were in middle school, we all ate together. But once middle school hit, son had sports every night til 6 and daughter had dance practice 4 nights starting at 6. So it's impossible now. We make a big deal about Sunday dinner now. But, I cook dinner every night, so everyone eats good food. I miss eating together, but the kids are doing good things, so it's a trade off. - 8/14/2010   9:06:11 PM
  • 79
    I also grew up in a family where we all ate dinner together every night. It wasn't until I was in college that I learned how rare that was! Now that I have my own family, we eat dinner together every night, too. And no tv or music during meal times. - 8/14/2010   4:43:30 PM
    It's just hubby and myself now. We always eat dinner together, but sometimes we eat different things. I'm more into healthy foods. We never use our dining table, in fact it's just in the way! - 8/14/2010   4:30:49 PM
  • 77
    Whoever is home when dinner is served, we eat together about 99.9% of the time. It's a strange day when we eat separately. - 8/14/2010   4:22:28 PM
  • 76
    most of the time I do me and my daughter and most of the time my son when he comes and eat with us but some days I don't which I need to do ,more often - 8/14/2010   4:09:08 PM
  • 75
    Unless a family member is working, we eat dinner together as a family at the table in the kitchen. - 8/14/2010   4:02:12 PM
  • 74
    90% of the time my fiance and I sit at the table and have dinner. And typically our 3 month old is right there with us in her little seat. The other 10% is movie night. We get our new movie from netflix and snuggle up on the couch with dinner. It's nice to have that as a "treat" usually thats the night we do a "special" meal also. We are the kind of peopel who have to have treats or we binge. - 8/14/2010   3:48:20 PM
  • BEEKIN1954
    Yes...we always eat as a family and I am the cook and we are all on diets, with the exception of my niece she is model thin. We moved here from Valdese, NC about five years ago. We ate as a family there and we continue to do so in Texas. Nothing like going to grandma's house for Sunday dinner. - 8/14/2010   2:38:06 PM
  • 72
    Dinner is always a family affair away from the television. We are a grandma, grandpa, mom and daughter (11yo) and that is where we talk about everything from school to music to fishing. Can't imagine not having this time to connect everyday as most of the time everyone is going their own way or on the computer. - 8/14/2010   2:10:15 PM
  • 71
    We use to eat as a family! Once a month we would even have a "fancy" dinner with candles and the good china! My children are grown and gone now, so it's just me and my husband. - 8/14/2010   1:47:36 PM

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