Let's play spot the fallacy. (Spoiler alert: Don't read the title of this post.) Item one:
Teenagers who eat with their families less than three times a week are more likely to turn to alcohol, tobacco and drugs than those who dine with their families five times a week. ...
Since the first CASA study in 1996 saw an association between the frequency of family dinners and rates of adolescent substance abuse, numerous other studies have pointed to the importance of the family dinner. They suggest that family dinners have a positive impact on nutrition, verbal abilities, mental health and workers’ stress. The news media passionately presses the cause; it’s a cornerstone of the slow-parenting movement.
To get the gist of the rest of the article, it's titled "The Guilt-Trip Casserole."
Item two, from rightwing religion blogger Mollie Ziegler Hemingway on the supposed "opt-out movement":
[P]arents in married relationships were more likely to own their own homes, have higher household incomes, be employed, and have at least a bachelor’s degree. They were less likely to receive food stamps than other family types. ...
It’s almost like all that morality stuff that religious groups are shoving down our throats has some merit or something. At least it has some policy implications.
To their credit, the New York Times does allow an actual researcher to debunk the "guilt-trip" point of the article:
Dr. Philip A. Cowan, a psychologist and former director of the Institute of Human Development at the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that the alacrity with which Americans embrace equations like family dinner frequency and substance abuse speaks to their need to find “silver bullet” solutions to profound problems.
But, he cautioned in an e-mail message, there is not a proven cause and effect that more family dinners equal less drug use. “To say that family dinners are associated with good outcomes is not the same as saying that family dinners cause good outcomes,” wrote Dr. Cowan, who has studied families.
The most likely explanation for the CASA results, he added, is that families who place importance on eating together — and can organize themselves to pull it off — are those who are more likely to produce good outcomes for their children anyway.
The conservative journalist Hemingway just goes all-in and says not only that marriage produces better outcomes but that it's all the doing of religion! And when I tried to point out the fallacy in comments, she deleted it. Which is par for the course with rightwingers: Dumb and dishonest.
And of course, both of these pieces place the burden on women to conform to someone else's idea of what a "good mother" is, or else their kids will turn out to be dropout junkies and sluts. The sexism is rank, and it doesn't get a mention in either place.