A new study coming out of the University of Minnesota has shown that sharing regular family meals makes a positive impact on girls that seems to last throughout their teenage years. Those middle school-age girls who ate dinner with their families at least 5 times per week were much less likely to drink, smoke or use marijuana 5 years later. This positive effect was even present in those teenage girls who did not describe their relationship with their parents as a good one.
The same positive effect, however, did not occur with teenage boys. Researchers were unable to explain why gender made a difference.
The dinner table is a great way to catch up with the entire family, find out what’s going on in everyone’s life and spend some good, quality time together, even if it is only an hour a day.
According to Marla Eisenberg, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health who studies adolescent health, “This is where they see where their kids are at, if they are veering to the risky side. Parents can be on top of that early on.”
From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: U research: There’s a gender gap at the dinner table
From JoinTogether.org: Family Meals Have Greater Protective Effect on Girls