It probably seems like a small thing, and working on Capitol Hill can be among the jobs that make doing it on a regular basis extraordinarily tough, but sitting down for meals with your spouse and kids may well be among the most important things you can do for them.
That’s according to a huge 2016 cross-sectional national study highlighted this week by the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI), headed by its founder, Dr. Patrick Fagan.
“The study of 8,500 adolescents found that 60% of adolescents shared family meals five times a week or more,” Fagan said in an email to HillFaith.
“The greater the frequency of family meals, the fewer were symptoms of depression or emotional difficulties, and the more frequent was emotional well-being. On the particular measure of being shielded from symptoms of depression girls benefited more from frequent family meals than boys did,” Fagan said.
The abstract of the study, which was based on multiple regression analyses of a variety of factors, described the results as indicating “frequent family meals may have a protective effect on the mental health of adolescents, particularly for depressive symptoms in girls.
“Interventions that aim to increase the frequency of family meals are needed to evaluate whether family meals alone can have an emotional benefit for adolescents.”
So, tempting as it always is to stay at the office another hour or two, consider setting at least one or two nights a week to be home in time for that meal around the family table with the most important people in your life.