Family Dinners Are Important For Teens, Report Says

Prevention experts emphasize importance of eating dinner as a family as a tool against youth substance abuse.

I was sent a very interesting press release yesterday from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. The release started by saying:

Compared to teens who have frequent family dinners (five to seven per week), those who have infrequent family dinners (fewer than three per week) are almost four times likelier to use tobacco; more than twice as likely to use alcohol; two-and-a-half times likelier to use marijuana; and almost four times likelier to say they expect to try drugs in the future, according to The Importance of Family Dinners VII, a new report from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA Columbia).

This simple fact has a lot to say about how simple and straightforward prevention work can be. Eat dinner as a family: how simple, how conventional. The idea conjures up images of Ward Cleaver in his shirt and tie, June with her pearls, Wally and the Beave sitting down to a tasty meal.

Though today’s family may not resemble the traditional Leave It to Beaver family the truth remains that time spent as a family is critical to the healthy development of children. Parents working longer hours, kids extracurricular activities, the hectic pace of life all conspire to keep families busy and on the run til late into the evening. Dinner time’s not easy, but so important.

For the past decade CASA has been encouraging families to eat frequent meals together through their campaign “Family Day — A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children™ This year Family Day is Monday Sept. 26. The spotlight on this one family ritual serves as a reminder of the importance of parents and kids to connecting with one another daily. The opportunity for conversation is critical: If you aren’t talking with your kids about the small daily things, how can you expect them to talk to you about big things?

“Whether you’re cooking a gourmet meal, ordering food from your favorite take-out place or eating on the go, rest assured that what your kids really want during dinnertime is YOU! Family meals are the perfect time to talk to your kids and to listen to what’s on their mind. The more often kids eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs.”(CASA)

As a side note: The Little Compton Prevention Coalition is hosting a potluck dinner on Monday, Sept. 26 at 5:30 p.m. at the cafeteria for Little Compton families to celebrate Family Day.

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