The Importance of Family Dinners - VI

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Monday, September 27, 2010

The Importance of Family Dinners - VI

Over the past 16 years, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University has surveyed thousands of American teens and their parents to identify factors that increase or decrease the likelihood of teen substance abuse. We have learned that a child who gets through age 21 without smoking, using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol is virtually certain never to do so. And, we've learned that parents have the greatest influence on whether their teens will choose to use.

These surveys have consistently found that the more often children have dinners with their parents, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs, and that parental engagement fostered around the dinner table is one of the most potent tools to help parents raise healthy, drug-free children.

Simply put: frequent family dinners make a difference.

In the latest report, The Importance of Family Dinners VI, CASA examined the link between the frequency of family dinners and teens' substance use, their access to substances, and the quality of teens' relationships with their parents. Compared to teens who have frequent family dinners (five to seven per week), those who have infrequent family dinners (fewer than three per week) are:

• Twice as likely to use tobacco;
• Nearly twice as likely to use alcohol; and
• One and a half times likelier to use marijuana.

Source: The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA)