Why Family Meals Matter: 10 Big BEANefits A family meal is one of the most lasting and cherished traditions in family life and provides an abundance of benefits to the whole family. There’s a lot of research about the importance of regular family meals and all the wonderful things they provide to both children and parents. Here are 10 key reasons to make family meals a priority: LANGUAGE SKILLS: Conversations around the family table encourage young people to build their vocabulary and conversation skills. Family meals strengthen the development of a child’s language and literacy. NOTICE CHANGES: Family meals provide a regular opportunity to monitor changes in a child’s mood or behaviors. It’s also a time to discuss any new activities that might be problematic. DRUG AND ALCOHOL FREE: Regular family meals are associated with a decreased risk of substance use. GOOD GRADES: Enjoying family meals are connected with better academic performance. GOOD EATING HABITS: Families who regularly eat together tend to have better eating habits, including increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other healthy foods, like beans! HEALTHY WEIGHT: Researchers suggest that regular family meals are associated with a reduced risk of childhood obesity, a major problem in this country. FAMILY TRADITIONS: Family meals provide a space to maintain, as well as pass down, family traditions from generation to generation. QUALITY FAMILY TIME: Family meals give a meaningful opportunity for families to spend time together and enjoy one another’s company. SHARED EXPERIENCE: Enjoying a family meal multiple times a week is an opportunity to create shared experiences. It instills a sense of belonging for everyone in the family. SECURITY: Regular and consistent family meals provide structure and routine to a child’s day, increasing their sense of security. For more information about family meals, check out The Big Benefits of Family Meals from the NDSU Extension Service.