March 2010

Family Dinners

Does eating together as a family have any true benefit for our children? The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (September 2009) conducted an investigation into this question. The researchers compared teenagers who ate with their families 5 or more times a week with teenagers who ate dinner with their families less than 3 times a week. Here are their findings:

Teenagers with less frequent family dinners were twice as likely to use tobacco or marijuana, one and a half times more likely to use alcohol, and twice as likely to anticipate trying other drugs in the future. CASA's Vice president and Director of Special Projects Elizabeth Planet said, "The magic of the family dinner comes not from the food on the plate but from who's at the table and what's happening there. The emotional and social benefits that come from family dinners are priceless."

How can we make family dinners meaningful? Eat together often. Turn off all electronics. Involve children in preparing the meal, setting the table, and in cleaning up. Try new foods as a family. Since conversation is most likely the essential element of family dinners--talk, talk, talk! Enjoy!

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