Suppertime: The family connection

Cathy Brownfield

In my youth, the last two weeks of August were spent on family vacation in the truck and camper, making memories. School did not start until after Labor Day then. How things have changed. Everyone is shopping for new shoes, new school clothes, and school supplies. Parents are rearranging the family routine for the next nine months. How will the family find time to sit down to supper together with all of the extracurricular activities, the jobs, and all of the stress?


My mother spoke of her youth. Everyone was expected to be at her mother’s table at 6 p.m. The family discussed the day’s happenings, current events, things of note. Dad was there, too. It was family time. She held the same expectations at our house. Suppertime was the only time everyone could sit down together. Not one of us would challenge her on that. We were at the table at the appointed hour. No arguments were permitted at the table. She said it was bad for digestion.

You may not know it, but there are many benefits to a family to sit down together for supper. The Family Dinner Project, which you can find online, recommends food, fun and conversation. Mom was spot on.

Specific benefits from the Project:

— Better performance in learning


— Higher self-esteem

— Resilience building

— Lower risk of substance abuse

— Lower risk of teen pregnancy, depression and eating disorders

— Less likelihood of obesity

— Better cardiovascular health for teens

— Bigger vocabulary in preschoolers

— Healthier eating patterns

“Numerous studies show that eating together not only as an important aspect of family life,” reports Standford Medicine–Children’s Health, “but helps make weight control easier. When a family sits down together, it helps them handle the stresses of daily life and the hassles of day-to-day existence.”

The Harvard School of Education reports that only about 30 percent of families manage to eat together regularly. It’s not easy, but it can be done.

“Teenagers rank family dinner pretty high on their list of things they like to do, and 80 percent of teenagers say that family dinner is the time of day they’re most likely to talk to their parents,” writes Jill Anderson.

Anne Fisher of The Family Dinner Project, said, “Regular family dinners are associated with lower rates of depression an anxiety, and substance abuse, and eating disorders, and tobacco use, and early teenage pregnancy, and high rates of resilience and higher self-esteem.” Fisher is a family therapist. She has stated that many of the problems she counsels can be resolved when the family sits down to supper together.

Each family must figure out what works best for them. To help families get started the website, www.thefamilydinnerproject, has some ideas to make suppertime a connecting time. What are you waiting for?

FRC History Bites: FRC contracted with the Jefferson County Prevention and Recovery Board to provide prevention programming and medication assisted treatment. The Kidz Adventure Program kicked off in Jefferson County in June 2015 and an office opened in Steubenville in July 2015. Staff members make contacts and seek opportunities to expand services throughout the county. In January 2017, the Juvenile Anger Management (JAM) group began. In addition, The Edge program for at-risk teens was revamped and relaunched.

Need help or more information about the agency’s programs? Contact Family Recovery Center, 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468. Visit the website at FRC is funded in part by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.