Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bring Back Family Dinners

Scottsdale Prevention Institute Phone: 480-443-3100
8102 E. Jackrabbit Road, #B Fax: 480-443-3272
Scottsdale, AZ 85250 United Way # 0077

Scottsdale Prevention Institute (SPI) Urges Families to
Bring Back Family Dinners

Frequent Family Dinners are Linked to Better Grades for Teens and Reduced Risk for Substance Abuse

SPI is highlighting a study originally published by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), "The Importance of Family Dinners". CASA’s research shows that "the more often children eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs and the better they perform in school". Visit for more information.

CASA’s research also highlights that, "Frequent family dining is correlated with doing well in school and developing healthy eating habits." The survey found that frequent family dinners were associated with better school performance, with teens 40% more likely to get A’s and B’s. A Harvard study also found that family dinners were the most important family events in helping children develop language skills.

CASA’s most recent study compared two specific groups: teenagers who have two or less family dinners per week and those who have five or more per week.

Those Who Ate Two or Less Family Dinners Were:

  • Three times more likely to try marijuana
  • Two-and-a-half times more likely to smoke cigarettes
  • One-and-a-half times more likely to drink alcohol

Ten Benefits of Family Dinners:

  1. At half the risk for substance abuse compared to teens who eat with their families less frequently
  2. More likely to get better grades
  3. Less likely to have friends who use illicit drugs
  4. More likely to have lower levels of tension and stress in the home
  5. More likely to say that their parents were proud of them
  6. More emotionally stable
  7. More likely to have positive relationships
  8. More likely to have healthier eating habits
  9. Less likely to contemplate suicide
  10. Less likely to try marijuana or have friends who do

The Challenge for Busy Families
CASA’s research confirms the notion that shared dinners make for stronger families. The problem is that between after-school activity schedules and parents’ busy work schedules, making connections within the family requires a concerted effort.

SPI Offers the Following Suggestions:

  • Make family dinners a requirement
  • Involve your teenagers in all phases of the meal
  • Make meals enjoyable
  • Ask open-ended questions to get your teens talking
    What was the best think that happened this week/day?
    What is something you laughed about today?
    What made you angry this week/day?
    If you could vote, whom would you vote for?


Anonymous said...

Hurrah! At least we're doing something right as parents... we eat dinner together every night. Because two of our kids have autism, we also talk a lot-- try to get them to share about their day and so on, to improve conversational skills. It's a nice way to keep therapy going after the therapists are gone.

Jim said...

I wholeheartedly agree with the virtues of regular family dinners--particularly those which include discussions about timely topics, including current events, and how they may relate to family members, as children become old enough to engage. Too frequently, dinners are rushed, disjointed, void of dialogue, or non-existent. Great article, Dana!

Jim Ekins
Scottsdale, AZ