On July 6, 2009, the Washington Times had an interesting article about the importance of family dinners and adolescents. It seems that the practice of eating dinner together as a family could be the single greatest decision that one can make toward saving the adolescents from poor decisions regarding drugs and alcohol.
For more than a decade, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University (http://www.casacolumbia.org/templates/Home.aspx?articleid=287&zoneid=32) has been studying the tremendous impact that family meals can have on children. Their research repeatedly shows how children suffer when they don’t spend regular, casual time with their parents gathered around the dinner table. Consider this summary of their findings:
“Compared with teens who frequently had dinner with their families [five nights or more per week], those who had dinner with their families only two nights per week or less were twice as likely to be involved in substance abuse. They were 2.5 times as likely to drink alcohol, and nearly three times as likely to try marijuana.”
Dining together makes huge differences in general family relationships, too. Children from families who don’t have frequent meals together are more than twice as likely to say that their family has strained or tense relationships. And, sadly, they often don’t feel as if their parents are very interested in their lives.
How to save your family from being disconnected
There’s no reason to wonder if lonely meals lead to strained relationships or vice versa – find out by making togetherness a priority. “Just do it.” It might be a worn-out phrase, but as the parent, you need to determine in your heart to make family dinners happen.
And, although they won’t tell you, your teens want you to make it a priority…Really!
As the school year approaches, please consider making Recovery Sunday, October 18 a part of your church calendar for the fall.
Do Something: Substance Abuse Ministry DVD
Introducing Do Something: A Substance Abuse Ministry DVD available through the Christian Life Commission. To order, contact Alicia Enriquez at 214.828.5192, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost is $2.
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