Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Family Meals

  • Jessica Jarick MetcalfeEmail author
  • Barbara H. Fiese
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_741

Name of Concept

Family Meals


Commensality; Family mealtimes; Family routines; Household meals; Shared meals


The average family mealtime in the United States lasts just 18–20 min, but this relatively short family routine has far-reaching implications for children’s health and wellbeing. Family meals serve several functions beyond the provision of food, including, but not limited to, cultural socialization, language acquisition, socioemotional development, academic success, children’s psychological wellbeing, and support for positive family relationships. Family meals occur when two or more family members eat food in the same place at the same time.

Family meals are ubiquitous – they exist across all cultures, countries, and social classes. This family practice may manifest differently across different groups, but serves a key purpose in bringing families together to communicate, build bonds, and learn from each other. Though family meals can occur in a variety of...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Illinois, Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Molly F. Gasbarrini
    • 1
  1. 1.Alliant International UniversityLos AngelesUSA