Heritage Foundation Report:
Family Dinner Benefits Include Prevention of Substance Abuse
Dear Epicworld readers,
I’ve been telling my readers this for more than 15 years! And now family dinners are more important than ever.~C.D.
Family Day – A Day to Eat Dinner with Your ChildrenTM was launched in 2001 by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. Family Day is a national movement that informs parents that the engagement fostered during frequent family dinners is an effective tool to help keep America’s kids substance free. Dinner Makes A Difference! 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.
Family Fact of the Week: Family Meals Benefit Teens
Summertime often means more family time, and that’s good news. Research consistently shows a strong association between spending time as a family and adolescent well-being. In particular, frequent family meals have been linked to a host of positive teen outcomes, including physical and psychological health, school performance, and reduced risk of substance abuse and delinquency.
The latest study on family meals, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, suggests the link is quite strong. Using a large, nationally representative survey that tracked nearly 18,000 adolescents over seven years, the study finds that family meals are associated with reduced depressive symptoms, lower risk of substance use, and fewer delinquent acts.
Family structure, family size, mother’s employment status, family relationship quality and conflict, family activities, and parental control—factors that are linked to both family meals and the three teen outcomes—partially account for the associations. Nonetheless, additional analysis suggests that increasing the frequency of family meals may directly lead to a reduction in teens’ depressive symptoms. That is, family meals appear to provide a unique opportunity for parents and their teens to connect in ways that promote the latter’s psychological well-being. It is also important to note that family meals are closely related other aspects of the family environment; they do not occur in a vacuum.
The study also builds on the evidence that family forms matter. Intact families tend to eat together more frequently, and, on average, teens in those families exhibit fewer depressive symptoms, have lower risk of substance use, and commit fewer delinquent acts.
Research shows that the intact family correlates with quality family time and other positive family functioning and dynamics in ways that can bolster outcomes for children and teens. Thus, strengthening the traditional family should be a key component in policies and programs seeking to promote children’s well-being.
So, you turn off the TV and sit down to dinner—Now,
what do you talk about?
Many parents are aware of the need for character education at home to offset moral deficiencies in schools. They also recognize that the perpetuation of strong family values is not achieved in one semester, but in a process—a way of life. However, typical families wonder how to squeeze one more thing into their already hectic lives.
Drawing on Biblical traditions, we found a surprisingly simple solution. Everyone has to eat dinner. Parents can naturally transmit traditional family values, without preaching, by sharing inspirational stories at dinner time.
For more than 15 years now, Epicworld Dinner Topics has been promoting dinner topics online—on a variety of subjects—cultural, historical, family, and current events.
For more dinner topics, visit Parenting Resources