Patt Morrison for July 5, 2012

Is the family dinner overrated?

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Dawn Gunkel (R) and her son, Parker Gunkel,12, during their family dinner on March 1, 2012 in Wilmington, Ohio.

For decades, studies showed that regular family dinners produced healthier, happier teenagers with higher SAT scores. That research arguably drove product lines of pre-prepared food and busy parents’ guilt and anxiety. But now new research is throwing cold water on the dinner table.

Does eating together really make for better-adjusted kids? Or is it just those families that can afford the time for a family dinner might also have more money and time than a family that can’t? Patt talks with two researchers about their work.


Did you or didn’t you grow up with family dinners? How if at all do you think that impacted you?


Ann Meier, associate professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota

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