The more often kids eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs. That is a powerful statement supported by more than a decade of research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. It sounds simple enough. Make time each day to eat dinner with your children. As families with growing school agers soon find out, activities and other demands on time make sitting around the dining room table together a bit difficult.
In an effort to promote Family Day which is the 4th Monday of September, (the 28th) the goal is to promote family dinners as an effective way to reduce substance abuse among children and teens. Family Day was established to remind us of the value of parental engagement and also encourages parents to make family dinners a regular event in their lives.
Try making a date for dinner. Good food great conversations and loads of laughs – that is what family dinners are made of. If busy schedules are making it hard for your family to pencil in regular family meals, take a “time out” to consider all the benefits of gathering around the dinner table. A family meal does not need to be fancy. It can be a picnic, take place at a restaurant, on Mom or Dad’s lunch break, or at your child’s school.
Family mealtime is a good place to start the communication process, reviewing events of the day or just finding out what is happening in your child’s life. The conversations that go hand-in-hand with dinner will help you learn more about your children’s lives and better understand the challenges they face.
A quote by Joseph A. Califano, Jr., sums it up best. “America’s drug problem is not going to be solved in courtrooms or legislative hearing rooms by judges and politicians. It will be solved in living rooms and dining rooms and across kitchen tables – by parents and families.” So celebrate family day on Sept. 28, and remember that what your kids really want at the dinner table is you!
Donna Krug, is the family and consumer science agent at Barton County Extension. You may reach her by calling (620)793-1910 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org