A new study by researchers at the University of Alabama has shown that kids who have dinner at the table with the parents are less likely to get into trouble when they are older.
The study showed that such kids are less prone to end up drinking or smoking, taking drugs, getting into fights, running away from home and other 'problem behaviour' as adolescents.
The study - of almost 10,000 children from the age of 12 over a period of 10 years or more - suggests that the ritual of sitting together at the table bonds the generations and helps set youngsters on the straight and narrow.
The study also showed that bad habits among teenagers are more common with those who did not have regular sit-down dinners.
The researchers said that their findings suggest that even increasing the number of family mealtimes by one day a week can lead to a 5 per cent improvement in teens getting into trouble.
They admit that there could be many reasons why the routine of grabbing a seat and eating alongside parents and siblings can be good for character.
"More frequent family meals may reduce problem behaviours by providing structure, stability, and improving family communications - which serve as protective influences against depression, anger and other psycho-social problems," the Scotsman quoted the authors as saying.
The researches also found that among US kids, boys were less likely to end up joining a gang if they grew up taking part in old-fashioned family mealtimes. They were also less likely to become violent, take part in drug taking and binge-drinking.
Girls who ate dinner with their families while growing up were less likely to smoke, drink or run away from home when they got older, the study found.
The study has been published in the Journal of Adolescence.