Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Ten Benefits of Frequent Family Dinners

The more often children and teens eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink and use drugs. Check out this research about children and teens that have frequent family dinners. They are:

1. are at half the risk for substance abuse compared to teens who dine with their families infrequently
2. are less likely to have friends or classmates who use illicit drugs or abuse prescription drugs
3. have lower levels of tension and stress at home
4. are more likely to say that their parents are proud of them
5. are likelier to say they can confide in their parents
6. are likelier to get better grades in school
7. are more likely to be emotionally content and have positive peer relationships
8. have healthier eating habits
9. are at lower risk for thoughts of suicide
10. are less likely to try marijuana or have friends who use marijuana
(The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University)

% Teens Who Smoke, Drink, Use Marijuana in Relation to Family Dinners
5-7 dinners/week 0-2 dinners/week
Cigarettes 14 34
Alcohol 30 52
Marijuana 12 35
(The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University)

Family support is one of the 40 Developmental Assets that lead to a child’s success in life. Taking time to build a supportive family environment is critical to a child’s overall well-being. Children and teens need time with their families – time to eat together, time to grow together, time to play together, time to overcome challenges together, and time to live life side-by-side with people that care about them.

Maybe it’s impossible for your family to eat dinner together. That doesn’t mean your family is doomed. But you’ll need to get creative – how can you structure your family time in a way that is supportive to all family members?