Friday, September 24, 2010

Teens, Drugs and Family Dinners

Did you know that the more often children eat dinner with their family, the less likely they are to smoke, drink, or use illegal drugs?

A study by the center on addiction and substance abuse reveals that teens who eat dinner with their families more than three times a week have half the risk of substance abuse than teens who eat with their families twice a week or less. This study adds to the growing pile of evidence that family dinners help strengthen family bonds.

Some may find this hard to believe, but, teens want to spend time with their families. Research from the Hawaii Department of Health reveals that two-thirds of the 10th and 12th graders surveyed want more opportunities to do fun things with their families, to share personal problems with their parents, and participate in decisions that affect them.

Children develop and maintain a sense of belonging within the family from these dinners. No matter what kind of day the child experiences, the routine of being part of a family is re-affirmed each night at dinner. This feeling of connectedness carries over into other aspects of the child’s life.

Scheduling family dinners gets more difficult as your child nears the 16 or 17-year old mark, because they are busy with their own life and able to drive themselves to school, jobs and friend’s houses. However, that’s also when their risk-taking behavior takes an abrupt upswing. Insisting that the child value the family’s shared dinner times may take some doing, but providing the tools to help your child resist drugs and alcohol is a worthwhile goal.

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