How great are family dinners? Be it a holiday, birthday or just a run-of-the-mill Wednesday, sitting down together for a meal is a beautiful thing. Which may explain why it’s a weekly tradition that’s alive and well. The average American family is spending time together. And why wouldn’t they? Beyond being the great equalizer, the dinner table is a place to break bread with those you love, make a few jokes at everyone’s expense and share a few stories. It’s time together, which, in this day and age, is a precious rarity.
The Harris Poll recently surveyed 2,236 adults between March 16 and 21, 2016 to ask them about their family dinners and among those who live with others, 87% reported sitting down to eat at least once a week with just 5% of responders saying they have better things to do.
Whoever does show up had better know not to pull their cellphone out, though. 90% of Americans say cell phones aren’t welcome, ironically, eating in front of a T.V. was totally cool. As a matter of fact, where you eat apparently isn’t that important. Although 71% of Americans say they eat around a table, 37% eat in front of a television and 22% eat on the couch. Kids throw a stick in the spokes of that dynamic, however, as adults with kids in the house are 76% more likely to eat at the table. Adults without kids in the house are 17% more likely to hunker down for a meal in front of their television.
The term family dinner leaves a lot up for assumption: In 65% of those surveyed, the “family” was made up of just spouses and in 58% of the cases immediate family was included at the table. Surprisingly, millennials are much more likely to invite friends, parents, extended family, and roommates to attend family dinners.
No matter who’s invited, many are just happy to have loved ones in a room. With the tide flowing in the direction of healthy eating, local sourcing, and organic foods, it’s surprising to hear that more than 8 out of 10 people say having everyone in a room together is way more valuable than where the food comes from. That being the case, 79% say they have made a move to make their dinners healthier over the past couple of years.
Regardless of what’s going on in the world at large, it’s a pleasant surprise to learn that the American family is alive and well. So sit down with a smile, leave your cellphone in the car, and make some jokes about how bad your aunt’s tuna noodle casserole is. You may not solve the world’s problems from the dinner table, but it’s a damn good place to start.