W ith two young boys in school, sports, art and music, the Kassam family is constantly playing agame of tug of war with time. One dayit’s art classes at 5:00 p.m. with soccerpractice an hour later, the next night it’shomework followed by a hockey gameat 7:00 p.m.
But no matter how busy life gets forparents Shaheen and Hanif Kassam,one of them sits down for dinnertogether with sons Eijaz and Raziq.
“For us, it’s become sort of our
conversation gathering point,” Shaheen
says. “When I pick them up from
school, I get snippets of their days and
at dinner I expand on that. We talk
about family vacations or who’s going
to have a sleepover or if one of the boys
is working on something difficult at
While family dining has been around
for as long as families, the tradition is
under increasing pressure: two-career
families, single-parent families, busy
schedules, long commutes, technology
(everything from TVs to texting) and
changing societal attitudes all influence
the family dinner.
Data vary, but several studies havefound about 50 per cent of nine-year-olds eat dinner with their family everyday. The rate drops to 35 per cent for14-year-olds. In 2007, the UNICEF
More than a half-dozenstudies have found thatthe more often familieseat together, the lesslikely teens are to usetobacco, marijuanaand alcohol. As well,numerous studies havefound children performbetter at school whenthey eat regularly withtheir families
Innocenti Research Centre rankedCanada 18th out of 25 countries on thefrequency of family dining. The reportfound 72 per cent of 15-year-olds eat themain meal of the day with their parents“several times a week.” By comparisonin Italy, Iceland and France, 94, 91 and90 per cent of teens, respectively, eatfamily meals several times a week.
In North America, a growing body ofresearch is discovering and reinforcingthe benefits of families eating together.
For example, teens who regularlyeat with their parents are often moresocially adjusted, are involved in fewerfights and less violence, and are lesslikely to be sexually active at an earlyage. More than a half-dozen studies