Media Release 27 July 2018
Family First NZ has released a new report examining the researched benefits of families having regular family meals together, and is calling for a marketing campaign with online resources to encourage families to have dinner together as often as possible. The report is entitled “IT’S TIME FOR DINNER: The Effect of Regular Family Dinners on Family Life”.
“The paper looks at the research and trends on this issue from both New Zealand and overseas, and asks a simple question – should we do more to promote and encourage families to have dinners together on a regular basis? Recent polling recently suggests that we like the concept, but actually making it happen can be challenging,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director and author of the report.
Some of the areas examined by researchers, and covered in the report, relate to the effects of regular family dinners on well-being, risk-taking, nutrition, obesity, preventing eating disorders, protection from the harms of cyberbullying, and the effects of technology and deprivation.
“The evidence appears strong: regular family dinners have a positive and protective effect which benefits families, and especially young people. The ‘magic’ appears to be not around the food, but around the family engagement, the conversations, the strengthening of family bonds, and importantly, the role in helping children deal with the pressures of adolescence and peer pressure. Family meals provide important opportunities for parents to communicate clear expectations about behaviour and family values. More frequent dinners also facilitate opportunities for adolescents to express problems and concerns as they arise.”
“When any family-based activity has the potential to help children deal with the pressures of adolescence and peer pressure, improve their well-being and nutrition, and strengthen family bonds, we should give it priority. And when we add the potential of this activity to help decrease the likelihood of suicidal thoughts, binge drinking, smoking and marijuana use, sexual activity, obesity, and eating disorders, it seems a ‘slam-dunk’ that families should schedule as many dinners together during the week as possible – even when competing with busy work and school schedules,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“When they ‘work’, they help make great memories and strengthen the bond of those present. However, they can also be ‘negative’ experiences – it may not be enough to suggest that families eat together five or more times a week if they come prepared to criticise, control, or avoid conversation altogether.”
“Even the gathering over a simple quickly-prepared meal, accompanied by a ‘serving’ of conversation and ‘topped’ with care can make all the difference to family life.”
Due to the overall findings of the research presented in this paper, Family First is calling for a marketing campaign with online resources to encourage families to have dinner together as often as possible, taking into account work & school commitments and extra-curricular activities. This campaign should include tips to help families prepare simple cost-effective meals, hints for keeping the mealtime as positive as possible, ways to involve children and teens in the meal planning and preparation, healthy eating options, and encouragement to turn off the TV and devices while at the table. Businesses, governmental groups and community organisations all have a role to play in this campaign.
“Parents may be keener to make the effort to plan for, prepare, and schedule family dinners if they are aware of the extent to which the whole process will benefit and protect their family in a number of ways. This is a topic that touches all families, and we hope this paper will provoke much conversation.”
The Full Report can be viewed HERE
View the Executive Summary HERE