Colgate University Libraries


The family dinner is an important social event that contributes to children’s growth as active citizens in their community. This sociological study uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to study the family meal and finds that this meal is strongly correlated with the development of social cohesion and strong relationships among family members. There are many obstacles to achieving the family meal such as social class, work schedules, TV, and gender expectations. When families overcome these challenges and develop meaningful family routines and traditions, parents often teach their children societal, cultural and familial values during the family meal. Furthermore, the family dinner is correlated with how children develop self-confidence, think independently, form empathy and compassion for others, and learn to contribute in meaningful ways to their community. This study examines how the family meal summons both individuals and their society to the dinner table while family members overcome obstacles to eat together, form a sense of social cohesion, share their beliefs and practices, create family traditions, and teach children to become active citizens who will shape the 21 st Century.