RSVP America Campaign

RSVP America began in 1994 as a grassroots movement to restore legal protection - state by state - for marriage, women, and children.

The Family Dinner Table Makes Happier Kids

Over the past fifty years or so a curious phenomenon has happened within families – homes have shifted from family members working together as a unit to individuals living together. This new focus on the individual can be seen in parents working outside the home more, children (younger and younger every year) making sports and other extracurricular activities their top priority and less time spent together while at home. Blame it on technology, the media or a declining value system in our country, but at the end of the day families are failing because of this shift.

The teenage years have always been tough, even before all the current distractions, but it seems nowadays with social media and isolation surrounding teens bullying has stepped up a notch. Researchers, however, have made a startling discovery.

“Modern lifestyles are busy and full of conflicting schedules, so getting everyone in the same room long enough to eat a meal can be tricky. But new research shows having a family dinner could be the key to happier teens and good mental health… Just as family dinners alone aren’t a magical solution, teens who don’t eat evening meals with their families could be supported in other ways, such as receiving parental support during the school run or at a shared breakfast.”

They are right on both fronts. First, sitting at a table with a group of people related to you in some form or another while consuming food does not necessarily lead to openness, communication and stress management. Also, the family table is not a magical solution. Many families cannot eat together because of work shifts or something similar. The important take away from the study is that family time is important, no matter how that time is achieved.

Families need to strip away activities and commitments that interfere with the family’s first priority – raising children. Soccer and volleyball are great for building self-esteem, teaching work ethic, and socializing, but if those commitments interfere with the family teaching those same skills at home, it is just not worth it. Teens, especially, need their parents giving them advice and listening to their problems. If at all possible, time needs to be made for parents to do just that. Every day.

Even though our kids are now smarter, more tech-savvy, and better athletes than they were a generation or two ago, they still are mired down in the bog of adolescence. That will never change. Our parenting must not change so much that we forget that our children are children, not future CEOs or doctors, but children, who desperately need mom and dad to listen and care.