In building family relationships, it is important for family members to eat together at least one meal a day. Mealtimes are special moments of sharing stories and forming family memories. Sharing meals helps strengthen family relationships and encourages bonding. A sense of belonging and mutual trust foster when adults and children eat together and enjoy each other’s company. Eating meals together boosts emotional health. Laughter often happens at the dining table. Mealtimes allow adults and children to express their feelings freely and help the members get along better. Each member knows about the others’ lives and is able to help each other get through difficult challenges.
A good mealtime experience nourishes the mind, body and soul. It provides a setting for moral and intellectual discussion where family members share family values. When children help with meals, they learn skills such as setting the table, preparing food, serving food and cleaning up. Children learn to share, be polite and respect others through the lessons of table manners (for example, when we say “please” and “thank you”). Family conversations also help keep children and teenagers from developing eating disorders. Conversation slows down meals, which help the body digest food more efficiently. Conversation also helps build confidence in young children. It encourages adult-child communication skills such as listening patiently to each other and expressing one’s opinion in a respectful manner. Moreover, children who often hear adult conversation improve their vocabulary, reading and speaking skills. Children shows better grades, healthier eating habits, closer relationships to parents and siblings, ability to resist negative peer pressure, and resilience in the face of life's problems. A study at the University of Minnesota found that young girls who frequently eat with their families have better grades and fewer depressive symptoms. Family meals and the development of adolescent mental health and stability are strongly related. More than a decade of research by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that when kids eat dinner more often with their families, they are less likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs.
Family meals foster family traditions. It is very essential in building family relationships.