The Power of Family Dinner. Plus, 3 Ways to Make it Happen

No matter how you incorporate family dinners into your weekly routine, everyone in your family will reap the amazing benefits.

In today’s busy world, it’s hard to picture sitting down together as a family and having dinner every night. There are sports games to attend, practices to get to and homework to do. In the midst of it all, the most important things can easily take a back seat.

I sat down and discussed family meal time with Christine Van Wagenen who has studied its importance for years. Christine agrees that preparing meals and aligning schedules can quickly become overwhelming. While it might be tempting to fall into the habit of everyone eating when their schedules permit, she says that sitting down and eating a meal together as a family will be far more beneficial in the long run.

Here are four reasons why meal time matters, and three ways you can make it work for your family.

Why Meal Time Matters

The Ministry of Hospitality

Of course, there are more ways to serve than by simply cooking a meal, but Christine says it’s one of the best ways to provide hospitality and show that you care about the individuals you’re serving. Your attitude toward cooking will affect how often your family gathers together and how you serve one another.

Whether it’s for your family or a neighbor in need, cooking dinner for someone promotes love, service, and connection. This can also set an example for your children as they grow up and have opportunities to provide service to the people around them.


When families sit around the table together without distractions, it creates a safe space for everyone to be themselves. For example, maybe one of your kids is having a difficult time in school and they haven’t had the opportunity or desire to talk about it. This time together can help them feel comfortable to open up, and everyone can contribute love, support, and help, making the family bond stronger than before.

Having a set time to be together every day helps family members move past superficial relationships with one another. Christine emphasized that we need to be careful what tone we set for this time together. She said “Meal time is not a time that you are going to discipline, it is not a time to motivate someone to do something, [Family members] want to eat, they want to feel comfort and pleasure. Save those [other] things for a separate time.” She recommends setting aside meal time as a place for lighthearted conversations and laughs as well as deep discussions and sharing hardships.

The Research Backs it Up

Christine has studied the importance of family dinner for years and she has found that there is research to back it up. According to a study conducted by Columbia University, “Teenagers who eat with their families at least five times a week are more likely to get better grades in school and much less likely to have substance abuse problems.”

More specifically, the study found that these teenagers were “42% less likely to drink alcohol, 59% less likely to smoke cigarettes, and 66% less likely to try marijuana. … The survey also found that frequent family dinners were associated with better school performance, with teens 40% more likely to get As and Bs.” These significant statistics show that family dinners can have an impact inside and outside of the home.

There’s a Domino Effect

There’s always a learning curve when you start something new, but making positive changes often comes with a positive domino effect. It all starts with good food. Christine recommends finding something that everyone likes to eat. You’ll probably have a hard time getting everyone together at first, and you might even get some complaints. However, if you start with good food, the rest will follow.

Tips for Making Meal Time Work

Get the Kids Involved

If you can get your kids on board with the idea of family dinner, making the habit will be so much easier. Let them help choose meals, prep meals, or even set the table. If you have teenagers, teach them how to cook so they can develop that life skill and carry it with them into adulthood. When the kids contribute and feel included, they’ll be more likely to get excited about it.

Set a Schedule

Aligning busy schedules can seem impossible, but the benefits of eating together will outweigh the difficulties. Set a schedule and let everyone know what time you’ll be eating so they can be there. Whether you post it on the fridge or send it in the group text, planning and sticking to the schedule will help you make those family dinners happen.

Find What Works For You

If the pressure of having family dinner seems like too much, you can modify and do what works best for you and your family. “Family dinner” doesn’t even have to be dinner—it can be breakfast or lunch too. As long as you’re sitting down all together to have a meal without distractions, you’ll get the same benefits.

If you’re just starting and feeling overwhelmed, plan one or two days per week at first. As it becomes more natural and you start building the habit, add one or two more days. You want to build a habit that lasts, so easing into it might be the best way to go for your family.

No matter how you incorporate family dinners into your weekly routine, everyone in your family will reap the amazing benefits. To hear more about our discussion about family dinner, listen to our episode of Not By Chance.

In this article

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How Parents Can Put A Stop To Their Teen's Self Destructive Behaviors WITHOUT Conflict Or Walking On Eggshells

Mike Christian

Back-End Developer & DevOps​

Mike is one of those brilliant, self-taught, back end developers that you always hear about. As a youth he could trust that “My mother would love me no matter what . . .” When he isn’t cranking out new code, Mike keeps up on the newest technologies and every Tuesday and Thursday nights he trains SpeedSoft with his team.

Rafael Pampoch

Web Developer

Rafael has his degree in Marketing and Advertising and years of experience with our dev team. As a teen he could trust that “The most important thing in life is love, and the most valuable things are our family and friends.” When he isn’t working on making the website and mobile versions of Trustyy seamless and functional, he unwinds by exploring nature. His favorite activities are climbing mountains, camping, going to the beach, swimming, playing the harmonica and always learning new things.

Afton Wilde


Afton’s experience is in marketing and bookkeeping.  As a teen she could trust that with her parents “Feeding the horses and milking the cow each day before school–not after–was a must.”  When she isn’t busy with keeping Trustyy’s lights on, you’ll usually find her baking up a new treat or working on a sewing project.

Nicoli Cristini

Marketing Assistant

Nicoli has a degree in Multimedia Production.  She has worked with our team of developers for three years.  She learned to trust her own parents when they taught her “Things won’t come easy and that working hard will bring me great blessings!”  When she isn’t putting together beautiful marketing pieces for the Trustyy App she likes to take pictures, play the guitar, piano, and drums, and meet up with her family to laugh over the silly things they did as kids.

Adriano Rodrigues

Mobile Developer

Adriano is certified in Analysis and Systems Development.  In his family he could trust the fact that “One difficult experience teaches me that failure is not the end, but rather an opportunity for growth and learning.”  When he is away from his work in making sure the Trustyy App buttons and bells and whistles are working properly, he likes to go to the gym, to the beach to surf, on walks with his dog, or go out with his girlfriend.

Lucas Baumgart

Product Designer

Lucas’s work experience is in User Experience, Interface Design and Product Management. As a teen he could trust that “In my home honesty was highly valued and lying was not tolerated.”  When he isn’t at work making sure the Trustyy App is easy on the eyes, Lucas likes hiking, gaming, going out for dinner, and spending time with family.

Cadu Olivera

Front End Developer

Cadu has his education in Analysis and System Development.  While growing up he could always trust that “My parents would be there to support from playing soccer at the park to learning to ride a bike.”   When he isn’t making sure things are easily navigated for our Trustyy App users, he likes to play beach soccer and enjoy music of any type, but specifically rock, country, R&B, and pop.

Mike Curi

Back End Developer

Mike is one of those brilliant, self-taught, back-end developers that you always hear about. As a youth he could trust that “My mother would love me no matter what.” When he isn’t cranking out new code, Mike keeps up on the newest technologies and every Tuesday and Thursday nights he trains SpeedSoft with his team. 

Roxanne Thayne

Co-Founder/Chief Marketing Officer

Roxanne received her bachelor’s degree in history and secondary education.  She has worked in publishing and marketing for the past 14 years.  In her family Roxanne says she could trust that “Her grammar and posture would be consistently corrected, to help her to become a lady.”  When she isn’t busy writing and beautifying things for the Trustyy App, you can find her reading biographies, practicing yoga, or gathering the family to talk business, celebrate wins or just plain hang out.

Sidney Rodrigues

Co-Founder/Chief Technology Officer

Sidney has a bachelor’s degree in Web Development and has worked in technology for 16 years, building apps for the last 10 years. Growing up he could trust that “It was always expected that I would fix anything related to technology.”  When he isn’t managing the development of the Trustyy App, you will find him spending time with his wife and kids. He loves to make Brazillian BBQ with his family.

Jim Lee

Co-Founder/Chief Product Officer

Jim has a degree in Design and over 25 years of experience creating SaaS products and managing talented product and development teams.  In his years at home as the oldest of five he could trust that “Each child got a weekly ‘night-up’ where we got to stay up late with a parent and do anything we wanted with them.”  When he isn’t looking 10 miles down the road for what will come next on the Trustyy App, you will find Jim canyoneering, doing photography, watercolor painting, or keeping up on the latest gadgets and technologies.

Eric Turner

Co-Founder/Chief Operations Officer

Eric earned his degree in Communications, Public Relations and Advertising, then added on an MBA.  He says he could trust that “His parents were honest people who kept their commitments–especially to their kids.”  When Eric isn’t keeping everyone at Trustyy on task, he is an outdoor enthusiast, year around, rain or shine, cold or hot, with biking in the summer and skiing in the winter.

Tim Thayne

Founder | Chief Executive Officer

Tim earned masters and doctoral degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy, and has 30 years of experience working with families.  While growing up Tim says he could trust that “My mother would love me no matter what, and that my dad would require that I respect my mother.”  When he isn’t busy guiding the vision for the Trustyy App, you can find Tim working around the house and yard, taking care of his sheep, dogs and horses, or enjoying a game of Corn Hole with the family.