Family Gathered at the Dinner Table = Healthy Adolescents?
Those old television sitcoms we see on late night television . . . reruns from decades ago . . . saying grace, “daddy guess what I did at school today” and the rest of it may just be the answer we’ve been looking for. They may have been onto something. Who knew?
A new study has shown a link between the family dinner and healthier teenagers! That’s right! A recent study conducted by Columbia University’s National Center On Addiction and Substance Abuse has found that family dinners are important to teenagers! The study shows that teenagers who had 5 to 7 dinners a week with their families were less likely to use tobacco products, marijuana, and alcohol. Teens who shared less than 3 family dinners a week, according to the study, were:·
-Nearly 4 times as likely to try tobacco products·
- More than twice as likely to use alcohol·
- 2.5 times more likely to use marijuana
“This year’s study reinforces the importance of frequent family dinners,” said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA Columbia's Founder and Chairman and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. It seems that the close family involvement and close knit relationship depicted in those television “fictional” families reflected a healthy environment that is in fact not fictional after all. Actually, 75 percent of teens reported that the connection with their family was the best part of the meal!
Those teens who spent less than 7 hours a week with their family were, according to the study, twice as likely to experiment with drugs and to use alcohol. Joseph A. Califano, Jr states that “. Parental engagement in children’s lives is key to raising healthy, drug-free kids and one of the simplest acts of parental engagement is sitting down to the family dinner.”
It is not surprising to note that those teens who share frequent family dinners are also shown to have closer relationships with their families:·
- 1 ½ times as likely to have great relationships with their Moms·
- Twice as likely to have great relationships with their Dads·
- Nearly twice as likely to have great relationships with their siblings
The study, “The National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVI: Teens and Parents” was released on 8-24-2011. Included were 1037 teens of which 546 were boys and 591 were girls. Also included were 528 of their parents.
So, what’s for dinner? Clearly that’s not the most important question. It’s not really about the food. It’s about the family! Pull up a chair, they’re waiting for you! How was your day?