Innovative Research From Barilla and Family Circle Delves Into Parents’ and Kids’ Perception of Family Meal Time
BANNOCKBURN, Ill., Jan. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — As part of its ongoing commitment to bringing families together, Barilla, a top Italian food company, has joined with Family Circle, which is dedicated to offering moms of teens and ‘tweens helpful advice and delicious recipes, to examine the importance of quality meal time on parents and children. “The Barilla Share the Table Survey,” commissioned by Barilla and Family Circle, found that when families sit down together for a meal, 82 percent of parents feel closer to their kids and 72 percent of kids feel closer to their parents.
The research demonstrates that there is a payoff, in the form of exceptional emotional and social benefits for both parents and kids. Furthermore, parents and children who share high quality meals together, regardless of how often they share those meals in some instances, are more likely to be happier and feel they possess specific positive emotional and social attributes. Studies show the typical dinner cycle with preparation, cooking, eating and clean-up to be less than an hour*, and this research shows the incredible benefits to be reaped from that relatively small time commitment. As a build to the 2009 Barilla Share the Table study that explored the benefits of regular family dinners from parents’ perspectives, these results further support that research by showing the importance of the quality of meals – not just the frequency and composition of the meal experience.
Parents and kids agree that the key ingredients for a high-quality meal include laughter, relaxation, conversation and being together eating something everyone likes. Other key findings include:
- Family time is a top priority for both parents (88%) and kids (79%)
- Three-quarters of parents and 60% of kids wish they had more time to spend together
- 71% of parents say they feel more appreciated by their children when they take time to have dinner together and 70% of kids, in turn, actually appreciate their parent(s) more when they take time to share a meal together
- Nearly two-thirds of kids notice that their parents are less stressed and more fun to be around when they have dinner together
- Eating dinner together at home ranked higher in importance than vacation did with 89% of parents and kids citing family time as extremely important
- 52% percent of parents and kids agree that it is easier to talk about their feelings over the dinner table than in other situations
- 62% of kids selected family dinners at home together over sports/team lessons, music/arts/dance and scouts/clubs as the best activity to help them with feelings of safety and security
- Kids report wanting to help with meal preparation (40% of kids and 53% of ‘tweens) and wish their parents would let them help cook dinner more often
“The 2010 ‘Barilla Share the Table Survey’ took a close look at the characteristics that define a quality family dinner and showed that the benefits of eating together stand out most for families who are able to capitalize on their time together, even if that time is limited,” said William J. Doherty, Ph.D., professor of Family Social Science and director of the Citizen Professional Center at the University of Minnesota, as well as a contributor to the study. “We learned that kids value the family dinner as much as adults do, and they actually appreciate their parents more when they take the time to share a meal. These findings tell us that something as simple as everyone sitting down together and talking about their day over a good meal can strengthen the bonds between parents and kids.”
It’s Not Just Quantity–Quality Matters, Too
Based on several possible attributes, parents and kids in the survey defined a quality meal as one in which there was laughter, everyone in the family was present and part of the conversation, participants were relaxed and unhurried, and everyone liked the food. When survey results were broken down by quality, it was clear that parents and kids who had high-quality meals experienced greater benefits in other areas of their lives compared with families who shared lower-quality meals. For example, parents who said they have high-quality dinners were significantly more likely than those who have low-quality dinners to report feelings of happiness (65% vs. 42%) and enjoyment (56% vs. 39%) in their everyday lives. This finding held true regardless of meal frequency. When asked which activities would best help them feel more empowered and learn to cope with stress, kids overwhelmingly chose family dinners over other activities such as sports, music/arts/dance lessons, and scouts or other clubs.
Both Parents and Kids Crave Connections
The survey revealed that family time is a top priority for both parents and children, but for nearly half (47%), busy schedules are the culprit for not getting that mealtime connection. But even when families do get together for a meal, there are several barriers that can threaten a meal’s quality. Technology, particularly television, can be a major distraction, with one-third of parents (32%) and kids (33%) admitting to watching TV always or often during dinner. Although seemingly high, these figures represent an improvement over last year’s findings, in which 50% of parents said that dinner and TV-watching happened at the same time. Additional barriers to a high-quality meal include tiredness, arguing, feeling rushed, not having everyone in the family there, not everyone liking the food, and people leaving before everyone was finished.
“We know how hard it is to always get the whole family together for dinner, and it’s great to see that teens and ‘tweens appreciate family time just as much as moms and dads,” said Linda Fears, editor-in-chief of Family Circle. “We always tell our readers that the best way to make the most out of mealtime is to check technology at the door, engage each other, take time to relax and enjoy the food.”
Additional Key Survey Findings
- Parents who report fewer barriers to a high-quality meal were more likely than those with more barriers to have feelings of happiness (58% vs. 47%) and less likely to have feelings of stress (28% vs. 47%) and worry (17% vs. 34%)
- Over half of parents (58%) feel guilty whenever they miss having dinner with their family
- Kids with fewer barriers are more likely than those with more barriers to describe themselves as:
- Respectful (75% vs. 69%)
- Happy (70% vs. 60%)
- Rule followers (66% vs. 56%)
- Confident (58% vs. 48%)
- Independent (56% vs. 49%)
- Hardworking (52% vs. 45%)
- Kids who have high-quality dinners are more likely than kids who have low-quality dinners to:
- Earn better grades (49% “mostly A’s or 5′s” vs. 40%)
- Eat nutritious food versus junk food (33% vs. 25%)
“This study underscores just how important the family meal is in terms of a child’s ability to connect with family members, make smart choices about schoolwork and lifestyle, and feel safe and empowered,” added Fears.
To find out more about “Share the Table,” visit www.ShareTheTable.com.
*Source: The NPD Group/Dinnertime Mealscape 2009 Study
About the Study
This survey was conducted online by Decipher, Inc. between August 5 and August 12, 2010, with a sample recruited from a nationally representative panel. Quotas were set to achieve Census-representative responses for geography and ethnicity. The survey instrument was developed by Strategy One with input from family expert, Dr. William Doherty, Ph.D.
StrategyOne, a Daniel J. Edelman company, employs custom public opinion research and secondary research methodologies to deliver strategic counsel to corporate, organizational and governmental clients globally. With offices in Atlanta, Chicago, London, New York, Paris, San Mateo, Washington, D.C., and Abu Dhabi, StrategyOne provides global clients with evidence based stakeholder insights, analysis and measurement. Visit www.strategyone.net for more information.
About Family Circle
Published 15 times a year by Meredith Corporation, with a circulation of 3.8 million and 20 million readers, Family Circle is one of the most widely read monthly magazines in the world. Family Circle provides smart relevant advice, sensible solutions, and inspiration in a voice that encourages and celebrates success in its pages and online at www.familycircle.com. Family Circle has always been committed to women’s issues and in 1973 became the first women’s magazine to fully underwrite a professional women’s sporting event, the Family Circle Cup, an annual women’s tennis tournament held in April in Charleston, S.C., at Family Circle Magazine Stadium.
About the Barilla Group
Barilla, originally established in 1877 as a bread and pasta shop in Parma, Italy, ranks as one of today’s top Italian food groups. Barilla leads in the global pasta business, the pasta sauces business in continental Europe, the bakery products business in Italy and the crispbread business in Scandinavia.
Barilla owns 54 production facilities (14 in Italy and 40 outside Italy) and exports to more than 125 countries. Every year, over 2,500,000 tons of food products under the brands of Barilla, Mulino Bianco, Voiello, Pavesi, Alixir, Academia Barilla, Wasa, Harry’s (France and Russia), Lieken Urkorn, Golden Toast and Kamps (Germany), Misko (Greece), Filiz (Turkey), Yemina and Vesta (Mexico), are featured on dining tables all over the world.
Barilla has become one of the world’s most esteemed food companies and is recognized worldwide as a symbol of Italian know-how by respecting its longstanding traditional principles and values, considering employees a fundamental asset and developing leading-edge production systems.
Media Contact: Mohammed Dieye, 212-704-8298 Mohammed.Dieye@edelman.com