Family Structure, Family Dinners, and Adolescent Well-Being

Susan D. Stewart, Iowa State University

Numerous studies report the positive effects of the “family dinner” on children. Contemporary families are characterized as hurried and even frazzled, and even under the best of circumstances substantial proportions of children do not eat dinner with their parents. A complicating factor is that nearly half of U.S. children live in “nontraditional” families (families that do not contain two biological parents). This study uses the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to examine the relationship between family structure, family dinners, and adolescent outcomes. Adolescents in nontraditional families were found to eat dinner with their families less frequently than children with two biological parents. There is significant variation in frequency of family dinners among children in nontraditional families. Analyses test whether the effect of family dinners on adolescent well-being varies by family structure, addressing the question of whether the positive effects of family dinners hold for children in nontraditional family forms.

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Presented in Poster Session 5