Debunking mealtime myths


Dear Grandparenting: It’s darn near impossible to get my grandchildren to sit down together for a meal. Both parents work and let them fend for themselves in the kitchen. I know my cooking isn’t the problem because I can still whip up something nutritious and yummy with the best of them.

I always felt like good things happen when a family eats together. It’s a special time that does my heart good and the best time to get a grip on how the kids are doing.

My pediatrician used to say that family meals were one good way to prevent juvenile delinquency. And you know what? He was right. All my grown children are good responsible adults. So what does that say for my grandkids? Janice Lynch, Marysville, Washington

Dear Janice: We have some good news for grandparents struggling to maintain the traditional family mealtime. Missing out does not doom your grandchildren to a life of ruin. The magical qualities that many attach to family meals is largely fiction, say researchers.

Yes, mealtime is prime time to strike up meaningful conversations with grandchildren (the second best time is while driving in a car, according to a Columbia University study of teens).

But a recent study in the Journal of Marriage and Family identified other factors play a much larger role in child development — how families differ in the quality of family relationships, joint activities like movie-going and helping with homework, and monitoring (curfews, clothing, companions and such.)

Researchers looked into whether family dinners in the teenage years had impacts that showed up in young adulthood. The results showed no direct and/or lasting effects of family mealtime on mental health, drug and alcohol use, or delinquency. Hope this helps.

Grand remark of the week

Jimmy Johnson from Waynesboro, Pennsylvania reports he saw “a big smile come over grandson Jack when I told him grandfathers like me are actually antique grandsons like him.”

Tom and Dee and Cousin Key

Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.

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