Friday, July 08, 2005

The Case for Family Dinner

Do you want to reduce the risk of alcohol or drug use with your teen child? Have dinner with your child - and often.

A University of Michigan study points to the dinner table as a powerful predictor of a child's well-being. The time spent passing the potatoes better predicts a child's well-being than time sent in school and time spent studying. Time spent breaking bread with the family better predicts a child's well-being than time spent in church or in sports activities.

Often, dinner is the only time a family is together at the same time and place yet this practice has been on the decline for decades. Cooking dinner is a chore easily dropped when there is a fast-food restaurant minutes away from most Americans and the majority of American families are headed by either a single parent or two parents who both work. Yet, the benefits to the family and children are clear.

_ A National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse study showed that children between the ages of 12 and 17 are less likely to smoke marijuana or try alcohol if they share a family meal five or more times weekly.
_ A study published in the Archives of Family Medicine show that children who eat regular meals with their families have better dietary habits, consume more fruits and vegetables and consume less fried foods.

Keep in mind that the family meal does not need to be extravagant. It just needs to be shared. Grilled cheese and tomato soup is just fine.

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