The dinner table is not only where we share good food and drink. It is also where we share our values, what happened to us during the day — the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s where we ask questions and learn from each other. In a relaxed atmosphere we can talk about our faith. The dinner table can be a great refuge from life’s hard knocks and stresses.

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University finds that teens who have dinner with their parents three or fewer times per week are four times more likely to smoke, twice as likely to drink, two-and-a-half times more likely to smoke marijuana, and four times as likely to say they will use drugs in the future as those who eat dinner five to seven times a week with their parents.

These findings mirror the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health, which is the largest longitudinal study ever done on adolescents. This study has some amazing statistics. Of twelve to fourteen year olds who don’t experience family dinners at least five days a week, 14 percent report drinking more than once a month. That’s kids twelve to fourteen. But for those who have family dinners, it’s cut to 7 percent!

Also, 27 percent of twelve to fourteen year olds who don’t have regular family dinners say they think about suicide, compared with only 8 percent of those who do eat with their families. Among seventeen to nineteen year olds, 68 percent without the influence of family dinners have had sex, versus 49 percent of those who have had family dinners.

10 Benefits of Family Dinners

  1. Everyone eats healthier meals.
  2. Kids are less likely to become overweight or obese.
  3. Kids more likely to stay away from cigarettes.
  4. They’re less likely to drink alcohol.
  5. They won’t likely try marijuana.
  6. They’re less likely to use illicit drugs.
  7. Friends won’t likely abuse prescription drugs.
  8. School grades will be better.
  9. You and your kids will talk more.
  10. You’ll be more likely to hear about a serious problem.
  11. Kids will feel like you’re proud of them.
  12. There will be less stress and tension at home.