Importance of family dinners

Christine Carter, PhD Sociologist & Happiness Expert, shares advice for parents on the benefits that a nightly dinner together can have for a family
Family Meals Advice | The Importance Of Family Dinners
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Importance of family dinners

The benefits of a family meal time or a dinnertime have been really widely documented. We know that kids who have 5 nights of dinner or 5 meals a week with their family tend to do better in school, get higher grades. They tend to be more emotionally well-adjusted to have fewer depressive symptoms, they tend to be healthier eaters. They're less likely to be obese or to have eating disorder. They're much less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol. So, we know that there are really good associations with eating a family dinner. We think that the reason why is because so much is learned at a family meal time that is really subtle like manners, for example. Seem kind of superficial, but actually, when you teach a kid to say 'Please' or 'Thank you', or to give the guest the largest piece of cake, you're teaching them things like generosity and gratitude. We also know that kids learn a lot of words at family dinnertime, more than 10 times as many as they learn from read to, at night. So kids are learning a lot in the realm of social and emotional learning, including linguistics at a family dinnertime.

Christine Carter, PhD Sociologist & Happiness Expert, shares advice for parents on the benefits that a nightly dinner together can have for a family


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Christine Carter, PhD

Sociologist & Happiness Expert

A sociologist and happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, Christine Carter, PhD is the author of Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents. Dr. Carter also writes an award-winning blog for Greater Good, which is syndicated on the Huffington Post and Carter has helped thousands of parents find more joy in their parenting while raising happy, successful and resilient kids. Known for her parenting and relationship advice, Carter draws on psychology, sociology, neuroscience, and uses her own chaotic and often hilarious real-world adventures to demonstrate the do’s and don’ts in action.

After receiving her B.A. from Dartmouth College, where she was a Senior Fellow, Dr. Carter worked in marketing management and school administration, going on to receive her PhD. in sociology from UC Berkeley. Dr. Carter has been quoted in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle and dozens of other publications. She has appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” the “TODAY” show, the “Rachael Ray Morning Show,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “CBS Sunday Morning,” “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer” and NPR.

Carter has been a keynote speaker at hundreds of events and professional groups. In 2010, she received an award from the Council on Contemporary Families for her outstanding science-based reporting on family issues. In 2011 she won Red Tricycle’s award for the “Most Awesome Parent Education,” and so far in 2012 she has been nominated for a Bammy Award and for an award from the American Sociological Association for public sociology.

Dr. Carter teaches parenting classes online throughout the year to a global audience on She lives with her family in Berkeley, CA.

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