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Wednesday, September 21, 2005Keep a kid off drugs, share a meal...
How often a family eats dinner together is a powerful indicator of whether a teen is likely to smoke, drink or use drugs and whether the teen is likely to perform better academically, according to a new report from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. The study – The Importance of Family Dinners II – also reveals that teens and their parents wish they could have dinner together more often. Findings in The Importance of Family Dinners II draw from CASA’s 10th annual back-to-school survey, conducted earlier this year. This nation’s drug problem is all about kids. A child who gets through age 21 without smoking, abusing alcohol or using illegal drugs is virtually certain never to do so. America’s drug problem is not going to be solved in courtrooms, legislative hearing rooms or classrooms, by judges, politicians or teachers. It will be solved in living rooms and dining rooms and across kitchen tables – by parents and families.
Family Dinners and Academic Performance
Teens who have frequent family dinners are likelier to get better grades in school, and higher academic performance is associated with lower substance abuse risk.
Teens who have dinner with their families seven times a week are almost 40 percent likelier to say they receive mostly A’s and B’s in school compared to teens who have dinner with their families two or fewer times a week, and this is associated with lower substance abuse risk: Teens who typically receive grades of C or lower are at twice the risk of substance abuse as those receiving all A’s or mostly A’s and B’s.
Ten Benefits of Frequent Family Dinners
The more often children and teens eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink and use drugs. Children and teens who have frequent family dinners:
• are at half the risk for substance abuse compared to teens who dine with their families infrequently
• are less likely to have friends or classmates who use illicit drugs or abuse prescription drugs
• have lower levels of tension and stress at home
• are more likely to say that their parents are proud of them
• are likelier to say they can confide in their parents
• are likelier to get better grades in school
• are more likely to be emotionally content and have positive peer relationships
• have healthier eating habits
• are at lower risk for thoughts of suicide
• are less likely to try marijuana or have friends who use marijuana
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