Family meals buffer the daily emotional risk associated with family conflict

Dev Psychol. 2020 Nov;56(11):2110-2120. doi: 10.1037/dev0001111. Epub 2020 Sep 28.


Family meals have been associated with positive adolescent outcomes in cross-sectional and longitudinal research. However, it is not known how adolescents experience family meals on a daily basis, and whether family meals buffer stresses associated with interpersonal conflicts on the daily level. To address this gap in the literature, adolescents (N = 396, 58% female, Mage = 14.57 years) completed diary checklists for up to 14 days, reporting their emotions, experiences of family and peer conflict, and whether they ate with their family that day. On days that adolescents shared a family meal, they felt greater happiness and role fulfillment, and less burnout and distress. Moreover, family conflict was associated with more negative emotionality only on days that adolescents did not also eat with the family. Findings suggest that family meals buffer daily risks associated with familial conflicts. Follow-up analyses suggest that these processes may be particularly important among older adolescents. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emotions
  • Family
  • Family Conflict*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Meals*