Money issues, politics – and Fortnite are the topics of discussion most likely to cause arguments around the nation’s dinner tables.
A study of 3,000 parents found 90 per cent say disputes are a common feature of their family mealtimes.
But some topics are more likely to get tempers flaring than others, with money the most likely to cause a ruckus, followed by video games and politics.
In contrast, softer topics – and those closer to home – are the most popular conversations for families, with the child’s day at school, the wider family chatter and gossip and holidays coming out on top.
The data comes from McCain’s ‘Nation’s Conversations’ report which looked into family mealtime habits, rules and topics of discussion to mark the launch of the third instalment of its We Are Family campaign, which is celebrating the emotional impact of differences within families.
Mark Hodge, marketing director at McCain, said: “From remain or leave, Love Island to the Women’s Football World Cup, to deeper family issues or just life’s daily grumbles.
“Whatever the differences in opinion, we found that when families are united at teatime, over food that everyone loves to eat, each of these differences can bring families even closer together when discussed around the dinner table.
“It’s where we feel most like a family.”
The study also found the differences among families are not limited to conversation topics alone, with the report revealing varying views on table etiquette too.
When it comes to mobile phones being used at the dinner table, almost three in 10 families have said this leads to arguments, while five in six have put a ban on them altogether.
But more than a third of families who permit mobile phone usage at the dinner table said they did so as a ‘compromise’ to keep everyone at the dinner table.
And a similar number use phones to aid dinnertime discussion, using them as a reference point for certain topics.
Despite this, a significant number of parents are also acutely aware of the potential negative emotional impacts of both technology and social media.
Two in five admitted they are worried about the nature of the content their child is able to view online, and more than a third were concerned about the impact of social media on their child’s mental health.
The research also revealed 95 per cent of families agree mealtimes together are ‘important’, with nine in 10 believing they help foster tighter family bonds.
Another nine in 10 say gathering around the dinner table gives parents an ideal opportunity to get to know their kids better.
It also emerged families are most likely to sit down together for a meal and a chat on Sundays.
But due to busy schedules or varying timetables, two thirds of parents claim they are unable to enjoy a daily meal as a family.
Two thirds of mothers still prepare the family meal, but more than double the number of fathers prepare the family meal compared to when they were younger.
And a fifth of those surveyed in the research, conducted by OnePoll, eat different meals to their family due to varying dietary requirements and taste.
Insta’Dad Simon Hooper, from Father Of Daughters, has given his tips for making family differences a highlight rather than a hindrance at mealtimes.
* Don’t always see technology as a negative influence. Technology is part of this generation’s daily life and can be positive in terms of learning & development, but it’s important they understand the balance needed from a young age
* Social media is part and parcel of modern life, but it’s essential to focus on what’s happening in the real world and not compare yourself to what you might see online.
* Being parents and working full-time, we try to have a good work life balance with the girls, ensuring space is made for family time every week – dinnertime is naturally a great opportunity for this
* With both Clemmie and I working, it is very important to us that we share the household admin, especially when it comes to daily chores, including cooking. There should be no such thing as blue jobs and pink jobs – everyone can do everything
* In our house we aim to have a balanced and varied array of food on the dinner table. Anything from a household staple like McCain being a mainstay in the freezer to exploring more exotic tastes – all we ask is that they try something once. We try to avoid having to cook to order, accommodating multiple taste preferences
* Dinner time can be a great time to discuss tricky issues among the family. Are the kids having any trouble at school? Anything topical or controversial they wish to discuss? Well the dinner table is a safe space to do that as a family so always feel free to open up
* With my girls, any question they want to ask is valid and will always be answered – in our family we think that honesty is crucial to having a trusting and open relationship with our girls…unless there is toilet humour involved!
For more information on McCain We Are Family campaign, please visit www.McCain.com