Recently my husband and I were eating dinner together and we found ourselves needing to set perimeters for cell phones at the table. As we were discussing this topic, we were also talking about how different family meals have become even since we were kids. It seems like we are all so busy that it is a challenge to find multiple nights a week to sit down and eat dinner together.
Did you grow up eating together as a family? Check out these interesting statistics I read recently from The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University:
"Compared to teens who have frequent family dinners (5 to 7 per week), those who have infrequent family dinners (fewer than 3 per week) are almost 4 times likelier to use tobacco; more than twice as likely to use alcohol; 2 ½ times likelier to use marijuana; and almost 4 times likelier to say they expect to try drugs in the future, according to The Importance of Family Dinners VII, a new report from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia)." It goes on to say, "Parental engagement in children's lives is key to raising health, drug-free kids and one of the simplest acts of parental engagement is sitting down to the family dinner." (If you want to read the entire report, you can find it here.)
According to the study, the transformation isn't so much about the food as it is about the quality of time spent together. Spending this kind of time together increases connectedness to each other, improves the quality of relationships, and improves communication. Including honest conversations about life issues also plays an important role in these statistics. Kids need to know that parents disapprove of drug and alcohol abuse and what to do if they ever find themselves in a situation where they are facing a difficult decision.
This week set a goal to share some time together as a family around the table.