study published in the March issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health looked at 26,069 adolescents aged 11-15 to examine how and whether family dinners were beneficial to adolescents.  The teens and tweens submitted data on the weekly frequency of family dinners, how well they communicated with their parents, their emotional well-being, and life satisfaction. The study found that teens who ate with their families exhibited fewer emotional and behavioral problems, expressed greater emotional well-being, higher life satisfaction and were more trusting and helpful.   These same effects were found regardless of gender, age, or family socioeconomic status. According to study co-author, professor Frank Elgar, “from having no dinners together to eating together seven nights a week, each additional dinner related significantly better mental health.”  Family dinners allow adolescents to feel connected and provide a safe environment with which to express their issues.  Families naturally spend most of their day apart from each other with work and school obligations taking priority, and family dinnertime is a ritual that brings the family back together. Dinners together don’t have to be elaborate three-course meals.  It’s not just the food on the plate that matters; more importantly, it’s the connection and opportunity to share stories and concerns of the day.  In addition, parents can get a rare glimpse into their teens’ lives while taking a much-needed break in an otherwise hectic, fast-paced day. How do you make family dinner a priority?  ]]>