Host: Does it matter if we have meals as a family? Dr. Diana Zuckerman: Eating together is actually one of the most important parts about the meal in some ways even more important than what you are eating is the fact that you are together when you are eating it and it's one of things that a lot of families today don't do very often anymore because one child has practice and one child has homework and dance lessons or music lessons or whatever. But eating together as a family -- when you look at the research it's very clear that kids that eat with their families have better relationships in their families, they often do better in school, they frequently have fewer problems with smoking or alcohol abuse or drug abuse. It's a relatively simple thing to have a family together, eating together and the security of it, the predictability of it and the fact that you are all there with nothing else to do, do not have the TV on please. It's the opportunity that people have to share what has happened in their day and I think every parent has had the experience of saying to their child, "What was school like today? Anything new happened? The child says, "No, nothing.
" "What's new?
" "Anything you want to tell me about your day.
" "No" So it's not like I think that children are necessarily going to sit down and start chatting but if you have a meal together where there is nothing else to do but eat and talk to each other you are just a lot more likely to talk to each other and you will find out a lot about your child's life just by having a time together as long as you are focused on it. You don't want the mother or the father spending all the time, bringing food to the table, clearing it off the table. You want to actually be sitting together, no TV on, hopefully, eating the same food together and it is a way for kids to learn to eat a real meal, to eat and talk, to share their day and it's part of not having everything be so broken up and scattered in our lives where one child is off doing one thing and parents off doing something else. So just bring in everybody together.