21/12/2009 09:06 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Family Meals - Are They Worth It?

We're often fed the image of the perfect family happily chatting and passing the salt as they tuck into dinner while seated around the table.

Oh, if only real life was like that.

When you've got up from the table four times, have mopped up two spilt drinks, faced a barrage of "Ugh, I don't like this!" and have refereed two rows it can feel like sitting down to a meal together every night is some form of torture instead of the path to harmony. But you'd be wrong and here's why:Stick with those stressful mealtimes because not only are they doing your family's relationships the power of good but they are also benefiting your children's physical and mental health.

Happier Teens
Well adjusted teens, those less likely to do drugs or be depressed and who were more motivated at school, were found to sit down to eat with their families on average five times a week.

Better Exam Results
Government research has found that children are more likely to get five good GCSE's if the family eats together every night. Family togetherness has been discovered to be one of the biggest bearings on classroom success.

Positive Role Models
Everyone sitting down to eat the same food is a positive role model, especially for notoriously fussy toddlers. Cooking separate meals for little ones reinforces picky behaviour and, let's face it, is more work.

Better Manners
It's about being a positive role model again, so elbows off the table and don't talk with your mouth full, Not unless you want junior to copy you. It's also a perfect opportunity to gently encourage good social skills.

It's easy these days to be like ships passing in the night with your nearest and dearest. But regularly sitting down to eat together reinforces those special bonds and gives you a chance to talk and catch up with everyone's day.

Home Economics
Preparing a family meal gives children the chance to help which offers them an invaluable life skill in cooking. It also means that the family work as a team with children, hopefully, doing chores like setting the table.

Do you make a point of sitting down regularly to eat with your family? Or do you finder it harder the older your children get?